The very first time I tasted quinoa was out of a gigantic pre-made salad box from Costco. While tasting it I was expecting great returns, keeping in mind all the edifying facts I had heard about it all that time, almost expecting magic – well, almost!
My husband, who rarely raves about anything unless it’s really worthy, had spoken endlessly about it. I think he was equally influenced by Runners World. ‘It’s one of the ancient grains from the Mayan dynasty’, ‘A Super Grain’ I heard him say. ‘Mayan Dynasty,’ ‘ancient grain’, ‘super grain’ – it all sounded so distinguished. So there I was staring at the giant Costco-sized quinoa salad and thinking, “gross”. Drenched in olive oil and super tart lime juice, mixed with soggy tomatoes, feta and parsley; it made me hate the grains. End of story. No posy.
Well, not quite.
Late one recent night while quite trying to get back to sleep, I was browsing the TasteSpotting website. (It used to be that watching boring late night telly or browsing superficial Facebook was what it took to lull me back to sleep, but not since I became a food blogger.) There it was: quinoa, again. Cakes, puddings, pilaf, patties, salad, smoothies, dessert … name it and it was there, all made with quinoa. Not sure if I felt bullied by quinoa lovers or was being pulled in by the herd mentality, but I did come home with a bag of quinoa grains from the grocery the next day. The dry grains were round and delicate looking, almost like tiny beads and cooking instructions were the same as rice – it looked more promising than just an ‘ancient super grain’.
I love the versatility of this grain. I love how it can carry flavours, especially from the vantage point of my Indian palette. It’s nutty yet subtle. I love the fact that it is a ‘super grain’ in addition to a number of other more valuable attributes credited to it. I seem to find myself hopping on the quinoa bandwagon.
WARM AND SPICED QUINOA SALAD
- Cooked Quinoa: 2 cups
- Cherry Tomatoes: 1/4 cup halved (extra few for garnishing)
- Ginger: 1/2 inch, very finely diced
- Shallots: 2 small thinly sliced
- Green peas: 4 tbsp
- Raisins or dried Cranberries: 4 tbsp
- Paprika: 1/4 tp
- Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
- Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
- Coriander powder: 1/4 tsp
- Lime: 1/2 juiced
- Avocado OIl: 3 tbsp
- Fresh Coriander Leaf or Mint: 1/4 cup chopped and a few for garnish (I used coriander)
- Heat oil, add the whole cumin seeds. When the seeds start to bubble up add the sliced shallots and fry for a min on low heat.
- Add the ginger and let cook on low heat for another minute. The shallots will turn translucent.
- Add the other dry spices, peas and raisins and stir to combine and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the halved tomatoes and fresh coriander leaves and toss in the spice mixture, then add the cooked quinoa and mix well.
- Take off heat and add the lime juice, season with salt.
- Serve warm.