Ever since I embarked on a special allergen-free diet for Baby Yum, I have been experimenting with some of the more exotic gluten-free “grains” or pseudo grains. Some of these have been a trial (amaranth, anyone?) and others have been a true pleasure to work with (quinoa, sorghum, millet). Quinoa is a grain that I long thought bothered my tummy, but it turns out other grains may have actually been the culprit. I’ve been enjoying tons of this cute little seed ever since I started my crazy-grain rotation diet, and am regularly amazed at its versatility. It makes a mean, if somewhat delicate, allergen-free muffin. But in its whole seed form, quinoa can also stand in for rice with amazing success. I’ve used it to make sushi, chirashi, fried rice, and lately, I’ve even been experimenting with it in Indian dishes. The last two weeks I’ve been obsessed with Indian recipes. My taste buds rebelled against plain-Jane allergen fare and begged for spices, spices, and more spices. And of course, Indian recipes are very good at presenting a rich array of flavors for the palate through the generous use of spices. I’ve been using coriander by the tablespoon, and cumin like it is going out of style. Good thing my local Costco caters to the Indian community here and sells it in quantity! Of course I could also buy spices from Indian markets, but I do have some concerns that the ground spices may be cross contaminated by flour milling and packaging. I’ve made scrumptious toor dal made by the Indian culinary goddess Manjula and an assortment of recipes from my favorite Indian cookbooks. Pictured above is a modified version of “Supreme Okra” from The Best of Lord Krishna’s Cuisine recipes. The original had enough salt to qualify as a cow-lick, but with some modification made plain old okra plate-lickingly delicious. For now, though, I’d like to share the recipe for the accompanying Masala Quinoa, a dish that was inspired by a recipe for rice but modified for pre-cooked quinoa with amazing results. I can safely say this is hands-down the tastiest quinoa I’ve ever had. I liked it so much that I made this recipe twice in one week; the second time I made it, it was for a long plane ride and it traveled beautifully. This is only the beginning. I’ve been experimenting with quinoa as a stand-in for rice in many Chinese and Japanese dishes, but now I see how well it works in Indian rice dishes, I have a feeling I’ll be trying quite a few more recipes in the future. I hope you enjoy this one!
Indian Masala Quinoa Recipe
2 or 2 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
3 tbsp mustard or canola oil
1 tsp black mustard seed
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1/2 piece ginger (peeled, julienned)
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large skillet (nonstick ok) with a lid on medium or medium high. Add your mustard seed and bay leaf to the oil and let it sizzle. Add your cumin seeds and wait a few seconds before adding the onion. Saute onions until they start to soften and turn brown. Add ginger, tomatoes, and turmeric. Let soften and then add your quinoa, stirring it in gently and sprinkling with salt. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir once, sprinkle with cilantro, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
*To prepare quinoa, rinse 1 1/2 cups quinoa and cook in rice cooker with 3 cups water, or bring same amounts to boil in pot, turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes. fluff and let sit, covered until you use. You can also freeze quinoa, defrost in microwave and use in recipes*
The most delicious quinoa I’ve ever had.