September 16, 2012

Quinoa Pilaf

September 16, 2012
At your dinner table, is there a dish that receives negative reviews time and again? Regardless how it is prepared or served, it will be poked around. Neither my husband nor I am a picky eater, yet, quinoa used to be an issue for us.

“Fish-eyes again!” my husband exclaimed whenever I pushed a plate of quinoa instead of rice in front of him. He asserted the kernels were crawling and staring at him! We debated, to the point of indigestion, whether quinoa is suitable for vegetarians.
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When we received an invitation for a lunch at a friend’s house, I flinched. The host had recently introduced quinoa as a supplement to his raw food diet. Before we left home, I took precaution and fed my husband well. The gentleman he is, I knew, he wouldn’t throw a temper-tantrum at the table, but better to be safe than sorry. I had no idea what kind of surprise was ahead of us!
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The conversation was jolly when we sat down to eat. After a couple of mouthfuls, when I noticed my husband about to say something, I turned gray, horrified.

“This is excellent,” he announced. “What is it?”

My gaze was locked at him like a flock of fish with a thousand eyes (quinoa seeds?). I didn't believe my ears. Seeing him accepting seconds and thirds, and even fourths, it was clear: quinoa khichdi would become his favourite breakfast or lunch.
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Glistened with lemon juice and olive oil, and mixed with vegetables braised in a pinch of hing, black pepper and ground coriander, quinoa had regained its' vegetarian status. 
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I usually cook it with yellow, split mung dal instead of aduki beans and omit pine nuts or almonds. This time, for a visual swing, I assembled it as a pilaf, although prefer it like a stew, khichdi.

You judge, is it glaring at you?
Thank you.

36 comments:

  1. I already love quinoa, but thanks for the new recipe. Great to have new ideas, especially when fussy eaters come to tea :)

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  2. A beautiful pilaf! Colorful, seasonal healthy and surely tasty.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I love quinoa but my husband is still a sceptic! Fish eyes got me laughing so hard!!

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  4. beautiful colors and hues of greens & yellows. we don't get quinoa yet in india, so don't know how the taste or texture is. but seeing so many quinoa recipes on the web, i bet it must be good.

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  5. Oh yes, it is sure darling. Beautiful fresh colors...

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  6. I can't wait to try this recipe! Being of Peruvian heritage I was anxious to to incorporate quinoa into our diet but wasn't sure how my husband (who is not Peruvian) would respond. But happily after trying it for the first time he was hooked. So now I'm always looking for new ideas in how to prepare it. Thank you : )

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  7. well, maybe not glaring, but i am sure it is talking to me... eat me! eat me! i love quinoa :-)

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  8. I have done the feeding my man before hand at times and I am glad that I am not the only one. This is the first time I admitted in public :) Glad that the keen fish eyes finally got a positive reaction for this sounds and looks as delicious as it gets. i usually make a pulao or a salad. Khichdi is next on my list! How you inspire me Lakshmi. I can see it done with hing and ghee and roasted mung dal. The husband here is not extremely fond of it, but he will eat it without fuss. You know they make me think of poppy seeds? the crunch in it?

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  9. yum. i love your recipes and am always so impressed by the beauty of your food photography. it's such a pleasure to follow your blog.
    haribol.

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  10. This is so beautiful! I know I tell you all the time, but I really, really like your photographs. They're a source of inspiration and wonder, Lakshmi!

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  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Quinoa seems to be on everyone's table nowadays.

    knittynora - It is safer to treat fussy eaters with French croissants than quinoa :-). Although they probably know they are fussy about food and eat before they visit anyone!

    dassana - don't worry for not having quinoa in India! You have the best cuisine in the world and manage just fine without it.

    Quinoa is a small seed with a tiny tail that comes out during the cooking process. It has a nutty, sweet taste, and is considered also astrigent in Ayurveda. It is suitable for all doshas and easy to digest. It is a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten free. It is NOT a grain and thus suitable for ekadashi fasting, too. There is also red variety of quinoa.

    Fenke - LOL! So, you speak English and Quinoa?

    Soma - a sister in crime. Khichdi is excellent with plenty of vegetables and a good spoonful of ghee! They do look like poppy seeds when uncooked. I've seen them popped like pop-corn, too.

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  12. mmmmm, yum!
    I would like to ask - do you have some nice recipe for an onion soup? :)
    warm greetings!

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  13. Frances - Haribol! I'm happy to hear you find something useful here! Thank you.

    Justin - It's ok to like the photographs :-) Whatever beauty you see in them is the beauty of the Absolute. I'm just a happy instrument in capturing and sharing it.

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  14. Blu*M - Sorry, I don't use onions in cooking! When I was a kid, my mother used to make a great onion soup but I wouldn't be able to tell you the recipe now. French folks are experts in it.

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  15. I swear that quinoa fish eyes where glaring at me! And no, I am not being neurotic here! ;)

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  16. Purnaprajna dasa - of course you are not!

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  17. Beautiful as always...
    I have to make this one, somehow I am still to very comfortable with Quinoa, trust me it is just and and bit of my hubby's not happy face welcoming new food on his plate..
    But I am thinking I can use this recipe with rice.. He will adore it..

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  18. This looks as beautifully crunchy as it gets for a September affair. Thanks!

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  19. no onion? Can I ask why? I adore onions, use them to most of my meals :) Yes, french onion soup is great, but I hoped you know some. I really like your recipes.
    Greetings!

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  20. Blu*M – Thank you for asking. I dropped onions from my diet when I took up bhakti-yoga over 20 years ago. Bhakti-yoga is about the development of consciousness and, like any form of yoga, it is best practiced with a peaceful mind. We accept what is favourable for cultivating qualities like thoughtfulness, truthfulness, purity, compassion, humility, equality... and reject everything, as far as possible, that hinders them. Food can be categorized according to the effect it has on our psycho-physical and spiritual wellbeing. Yogis and saints of the present and previous ages recommend only food that is called sattvic, in the mode of goodness. Such food supports the health of body, mind and soul. More we become aware of whom we are, what everything is and what our relationship with the existence is, we start to recognize more subtle influences in and around us.

    What, how, when and with whom we eat affects us! Meat, fish, alcohol, mushrooms, too heavy spicing, garlic and onions are considered in the mode of ignorance and passion. They contribute to anxiety, restlessness, depression, anger, greed, lust, envy... in other words, qualities yogis are dedicated to keep in control. They are not conducive for the culture of goodness.

    I have eaten onions and garlic a couple of times by accident in a situation someone served them to me. I could follow their movement from my tongue to the toilet: the effect they had on my body and mind was so tangible. The physical reaction was feverish. Both of them act like a medicine. They are strong stimulants. They irritate the mind. It takes many days to wear them out from the system! If they are part of the diet, we won’t notice the effect, because our nature becomes compatible with the nature of food we consume.

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  21. what a wonderful way to eat one of my favorite foods!

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  22. your photographs and witty stories inspires me to cook different things, even when I don't have the time, because of the baby...Regualry I just make kitchri,pasta and soup... :)
    Love,
    Someone u know :)

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  23. Thank you for an answer. I didn't study bhakti yoga, but I start with Ayurweda last years. About onion and garlic - one of my favorites - I didn't know. I will limit my consumption of these. But I have to admit - it won't be easy.
    Thank you once again :)

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  24. Mysterious Anonymous alias someone-I-know, thanks for stopping by. I have an idea who you are :-) but I also know a couple of friends with babies...hmm...next time you'll have to leave a cue, a word that only you and I know the meaning of! Nevertheless, I'm happy you find something inspiring here. Thank you.

    Blu*M - Don't worry about onions! If it is something that is not important to you, you don't have to give it up. Just because I don't eat onions doesn't mean others shouldn't eat them either. We all have our path, choices and free will. Onions are not the worst thing in the world!

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  25. I have a quinoa pilaf on my menu for tomorrow night and you post has given me some ideas, so thank you.

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  26. oh, I know :) but I'm trying to eat healthy for a body and mind and I'm not going to give up onions - oh no!, but maybe I eat them too much. I would like to grow in my compassion not ignorance. And the path I chose to some time ago is to become a pure ;) conciousness.
    what a nice conversation we have! Thank you :)

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  27. Suzanne - Nice to hear!

    Blu*M - That's a good point to start: moderation! I'm happy to hear you are interested in the subject of consciousness!

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  28. My husband is another quinoa hater - I think this might convert him!

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  29. Sally - Welcome to the club! For my husband the key was to mix quinoa with veggies. When served plain, he could barely look at it.

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  30. Hi Lakshmi
    A lot of people react viscerally to Quinoa for many reasons. My daughter cannot stand the curly germ that is attached to the cooked Quinoa and truth be told it bothers me too. She likes Quinoa, understands it's nutritional value but can't get over the squigglies, if that is a word. So I teasingly tell her to remove her glasses while eating so she won't notice it!

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    1. LOL! That's funny! Yes, quinoa is definitely not practical for people with vivid imagination.

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  31. I tried this for dinner last night and it was delicious!! I will have it again today for lunch...

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    1. I'm happy to hear! You can try it sometimes with yellow mung dal, it's even better. If you leave it a little bit wet, it is satisfying.

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  32. Hello,
    Just wondering what you used for the vegetables? I am unable to make out which vegetables are in the above picture. Thanks in advance. :-)

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    1. I think: three kinds of fresh beans, corn, yellow zucchini, broad beans, separately cooked aduki beans and roasted pine nuts. It is a no-stress dish, any left-over vegetables would do.

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    2. Hi, I’m Sonia, italian food blogger (and your 'fan') sorry for my bad english, I want tell you that I have included the link of this recipe (which I liked very much) in the section on my blog dedicated to “10 ways to make” (“10 Modi di Fare”) pilaf.
      The post is ‘Riso pilaf’ I hope not to bother you, have a nice day.
      Sonia

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