Quinoa - the Super seed
I picked up my first packet of quinoa a few years back after I read an article screaming about its goodness. The packet sat pretty in my pantry for a few months! I would look at the packet and wonder about it and then decide that is it too much of a bother to cook and anyway I am not sure if I will like the taste, if the family would like it – and isn’t it easier to make pasta for dinner? I forgot about its existence and it stopped niggling my conscience (it was expensive!). I finally threw it out when I was moving countries – the expiry date long gone!
When we moved into Dubai, it took a while to get the kitchen set and we were either eating out or ordering in for close to a month.
Zomato helpfully gave us a list of restaurants and we happily experimented with cuisines and dishes! We tried quinoa biriyani, quinoa tabbouleh, quinoa risotto and loved it!
We were converts!
I decided that something that tasted so good cannot possibly be healthy – and went fact hunting! To my surprise – I found that it is not just healthy – it is super healthy!!
Here’s a list of what I found:
- Quinoa is pronounced keen-wah not kwin – o – ah!
- Quinoa is not a grain!! It is what is called a pseudo grain. We eat the seed of the quinoa plant. It belongs to the Goosefoot family and is related to other filled with goodness plants like Spinach and Chard.
- Quinoa is naturally gluten free and it is a complete protein. It provides all of the essential amino acids which the body needs. It is rich in Iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium and fiber. It is a great source of proteins for vegetarians
- Quinoa is not a modern day seed – it has been the staple food from pre – historic days! The ancient Incas cultivated it in the Andes region of South America.
- It comes in different colours. The colours just add to the variety and all of them are equally nutritious!
With its nutty flavor and fluffiness, it is a versatile seed and lends itself to any recipe. It can be used in salads, baked dishes, risotto, biriyanis, dosas, cookies, pancakes… the list is endless and the limit is your imagination! It pairs well with most vegetables and gives a nutritious boost to all your dishes!
First things first! Rinse your quinoa well! Nature has given the seeds a bitter coating to deter birds.. but we cannot let that deter us! Soak the quinoa in cool water for 5 – 7 minutes and rinse well. I use a large tea strainer or a fine meshed colander to help me rinse it!
Quinoa is cooked the same way as rice. Pour 2 cups of water in a pot and add 1 cup of quinoa to it. Let it simmer for 12- 15 minutes till all the liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir while simmering. Once the water has been absorbed – remove from heat and gently fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Ta da! Your quinoa is ready! ( If you are like me and use a pressure cooker for everything – pressure cook 1 cup of quinoa with 1 ¾ cups of water for one whistle). Salt is optional. Don’t be grossed out by the little curly string that will come out of cooked quinoa- it is just the germ of the seed and is edible!
- Gaurav Jain