Quinoa (pronounced “keen wa”) is actually an ancient food source with origins in the Andes region of South America and dating as far back as the Incan civilization. Although often referred to erroneously as a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant. Quinoa is regarded as a complete source of protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids -- making it perfect for a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is also high in dietary fiber.
If you have never tried quinoa before, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s a bit hard to describe, but when cooked, quinoa has a very light & fluffy texture combined with a mild & delicate nutty flavor. It also has a wonderful almost “crunch“. Best of all, it cooks up in just 15 minutes! Healthy, nutritious, simple & delicious - what more could you ask for really?
This dish is perfect as a light meal, lunch or even brunch. It’s great for entertaining too. Most large grocery stores in the bigger cities will carry quinoa in their health food aisles. All health food and organic grocery stores will definitely carry quinoa. There are several online sources as well.
QUINOA with Vegetables, Indian Style
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 small green Thai chilies, cut in half lengthwise
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled & finely grated
½ small zucchini, finely diced
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
½ cup of green peas (frozen is fine)
½ cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
½ cup of toasted unsalted peanuts
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
4-6 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafetida
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Carefully sort through your quinoa to remove any small black stones or any other debris.
In a medium bowl, combine the quinoa with enough water to cover & let soak for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse the quinoa several times and drain well. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. If you bought your quinoa in bulk & don’t have instructions, fear not!
In a medium size saucepan on medium high heat, add the quinoa and dry toast for just a minute or two until a few seeds begin to “pop”. At this point, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Now cover and reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Quickly remove from heat and let stand for 8-10 minutes, fluff with a fork. Allow to cool and set aside until needed.
In a large soup pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds and allow to splatter. When the splatter stops, add the cumin seeds along with the green chilies, curry leaves & asafetida. Stir for 30 seconds or so and then add the onions. Keep stirring until the onions just start to brown and then add the ginger and garlic. Stir until fragrant and then add the peanuts. Keep stir frying to combine all of the ingredients.
At this point, you can start adding the vegetables: first add the carrots, zucchini & the red bell pepper. After 1-2 minutes, add the green peas and corn. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, keep stir frying every so often.
Now slowly start adding the quinoa a little at a time, so the quinoa will not clump together but mix evenly throughout the vegetables. Season with salt & pepper, add the lime juice and mix well. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately.