Friday, April 2, 2010

Quinoa Upma

Upma is a comfort food in South India. Rava, semiya, rice, bread - no matter what your base ingredient is - making upma can never be difficult and a basic upma is always a Quick Fix Recipe! This time I decided to make upma with a new ingredient, something I have been wanting to try for a long time now - Quinoa!!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a very-high-protein grain thus making it an unusually complete protein source especially for vegetarians and vegans. The grain is native to South America and was once considered the "mother grain" by the Incas. Click here for more information and for the nutritional benefits of Quinoa.

Quinoa may not be available in your regular grocery store, look for it in a health food store. I picked up mine from Whole Foods.


Quinoa - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 2 medium sized pods, chopped 1/2 inch size
Onion - 1/4 of a big onion, chopped 1/2 inch size
Vegetables (carrot, peas, beans) - 1/4 cup, finely chopped (I was not fully prepared when I made this upma. I am sure you can tell from the frozen mixed vegetables in my upma!!)
Water - 1.25 cups (I had plenty of the V8 tomato juice 5.5oz cans, so I used one of those cans combined with water)
Garbanzo/chickpeas - 1/4 cup
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Jeera/cumin seeds - 1tsp (Upma would typically start with the mustard-urad dal combo but I decided to twist that a li'l bit!)
Red chili powder - 1tsp (optional)
Oil - 3 tbsp

Heat oil in a small stock pot, add jeera, when it splutters add garlic, onion and saute well. Add the turmeric, red chili powder, salt and mix in the vegetables. If you are using fresh vegetables, roast for a little longer, add the Quinoa and roast for 1-2 minutes, add the chickpeas and the liquids. Mix well once, cover the pot and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Remove lid, mix and check to make sure there's enough water, cover again and turn the stove off and let it sit for a few minutes. Quinoa is cooked when the germ separates from the grain (you can see that in the picture below).

  • You can also cook Quinoa ahead of time and then mix it in when the vegetables are done. Quinoa can be cooked in the rice cooker by combining one measure of quinoa with two measures of water (OR) boil 2 measures of water for one measure of Quinoa, add the Quinoa and let it cook in medium heat for close to 15 minutes.
  • For salads, use 1:2 measure (Quinoa:water) and when Quinoa is cooked, fluff it up with a fork and let it sit for a few minutes before mixing in other ingredients.

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