Quinoa with Lentils, Indian Style Recipe

Quinoa with Lentils, Indian Style Recipe
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 Lentils, Indian Style


1 cup of uncooked quinoa
½ cup whole masoor dal (small brown lentils)
2 shallots, thinly sliced (or you can use a small red onion)
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 dried red chilies (to taste)
3-4 fresh curry leaves
2 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp fresh lime zest
juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish


First, in a medium saucepan on high heat, add about 1½ cups of water along with the masoor dal. Bring to a good boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook until the dal is just tender but not mushy (about 12-15 minutes). Drain well and set aside until needed. Alternatively, you could also cook the dal in a pressure cooker if you wish.

While the masoor dal is cooking, 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 the quinoa to cool & set aside until needed.

In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds along with the dried red chilies & curry leaves. Stir for about 30 seconds or so and then add the shallots. Keep stirring until the shallots just start to brown and then add the ginger & garlic. Stir until fragrant and then add the masoor dal (lentils). Stir & let the dal cook for 5 minutes, then add the baby spinach. Keep stir-frying to combine all of the ingredients & allow the baby spinach to fully wilt.

Now slowly start adding the quinoa a little at a time, so the quinoa will not clump together but mix evenly with the other ingredients. Season with salt & pepper, add the lime zest & the lime juice and mix well. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately.


Feel free to add some toasted pine nuts or grape/cherry tomatoes to the dish if you like. Just mix them in at the end along with the quinoa.

 photo Quinoa.jpg

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