Warm quinoa salad with Indian spices

Quinoa and its benefits



I have spoken in brief about quinoa on my post about gestational diabetes.  After I wrote about brown rice, I wanted to explore in detail about quinoa. So here I am writing about a magical grain – QUINOA (pronounced as Keen-wa).

Most kitchens known to me doesn’t have quinoa in their shelves. Well, most supermarket known to be doesn’t even carry it. Then finding a store that would have quinoa all the time was by itself a challenge for me. Finally I have settled down with amazon or you can buy from direct retailers.

Where to find one?
1. Costco – very selected stores
2. Safeway – small packets 
3. Whole foods – small packets
4. Amazon – Best option

Quinoa is not a grain, its the seed of the goosefoot plant. They are staple food for the people of Andes Mountains for thousands of years. In a nutshell, its a healthy complex carbohydrate grain from South America. The warriors were nourished with quinoa to increase their stamina. Since it can be lightly toasted and ground to a flour, they are also referred to as pseudograin. Quinoa is a seed that becomes fluffy, creamy and gets a nutty flavour when cooked. Quinoa is a close cousin of beets, spinach and swiss chard.  I have personally not seen the leaves but relevant articles suggested that the leaves are very similar to that of beets, spinach and swiss chard and they are edible. 

Quinoa is rich protein and also its a complete protein (contains all the nine essential amino acids). It’s the best protein source for vegans/vegetarians. Lysine is one of the nine essential amino acid which the body cann’t produce by itself and must be obtained from dietary sources. Other grains like barley, brown rice, buck wheat has little lysine content in them but not enough to count. Quinoa had sufficient amount of lysine in it. Apart from quinoa, cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast also contains lysine.

Did you know?
1. Quinoa cause no insulin spike
2. Will keep you full for longer
3. Reduced risk of heart diseases
4. Its rich in fiber and helps in better gastrointestinal health
5. Rich source of manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorous.

One of the literature said that the magnesium and riboflavin present in quinoa helps to relax blood vessels that constricts and rebounds to cause migraines. Since magnesium relaxes the blood vessels, a diet rich in quinoa can help to lower the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases. Magnesium acts a co-factor for so many enzymes in the body including the ones that are involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. Now start including quinoa in your meals if you have a family member who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.
There is high levels of micronutrients in quinoa which are involved in muscle growth. Magnesium maintains the muscle growth and also helps in creating new muscles. The potassium acts like a pump by pulling out the fluid from the bloodstream in to muscle cells. Folate is required by the muscles to produce new cells. So if you eat a diet rich in quinoa, it will help in better recovery after a workout.

Quinoa had similar health benefits like brown rice. You can read about that here. On my personal taste preference and usage, I use brown rice for two purposes: one to make batter like idly, dosa, adai, idiyappam and other when made mushy like for pongal, bisi bela bath, bagala bath. I didn’t develop a liking for cooked brown rice but for all the other India inspired dishes I use quinoa. Quinoa complements the spices well and they taste delicious when cooked with right ingredients.
Today’s post is about a warm quinoa salad I made with lemon juice and toasted almonds. The recipe is similar to that of Indian lemon rice. Instead of the rice, I am using quinoa here. Mostly we use roasted cashews or peanuts to garnish but I made this dish with roasted almonds. Those were the two simple changes I made to the original recipe. But this bowl of my warm quinoa salad is packed with wholesome goodness. As I always say I would like to create recipe that are tasty and healthy. I take the old and carefully incorporate the global influences to create a new recipe.
Serves: 4
Source: Self

1 cup raw white quinoa ( I used Bob Red Mill oraganic quinoa)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
20-30 almonds (raw) or roasted
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dhal or black gram
12-15 curry leaves
1 teaspoon asafoetida
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 Thai green chillies – slit
1/2 tablespoon ginger – minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste, about 1-2 teaspoon
1. If using raw almonds, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cooking pan. Once the oil ripples, add the almonds and roast them for 10- 15minutes, until they brown a bit. Remove and place over a kitchen towel.
2. In the mean while, pressure cook the quinoa with 2 cups water for 4 whistles or cook over the stove top with 2 cups water for 20-25 minutes (cook covered). Once done, use a fork to fluff them up. Set aside.
3. To the left over oil, add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Then add the curry leaves and let it crisp, about 30-45 seconds. Then add the urad dhal and saute for 60 seconds.
4.. Now add asafoetida, green chillies, ginger , turmeric powder and saute for 30-45 seconds. Finally add the lemon juice and salt. Stir.
5. Mix in the quinoa with this lemon vinaigrette. Garnish with roasted almonds. Serve hot with a oven baked bittergourd chips/ okra stirfry / egg curry / chicken cury
Additional notes:
1. My warm quinoa salad can be eaten during phase 2 and phase 3 of South beach diet.
2. An excellent source of protein for pregnant women and definitely a good replacement for rice for women with gestational diabetes and also for those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.
3. Eating a serving of quinoa for a meal everyday can help in better recovery after a workout.
4. Quinoa had low glycemic index
5. They are gluten free, wheat free, cholesterol free
6. Quinoa had the highest content of unsaturated fats and a lower ratio of carbohydrates than any other grain

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  1. Oh I am so trying this!
    Hey, do u have a Trader Joe or sprouts or naturally yours grocery store near you? U can get quinoa there in the bulk bins and at a reasonable rate too.

  2. Do you get this in India? Any idea about it.. another very informative post vijitha..i almost mistook them aval upma 🙂

  3. very good informations here. love it. I always buy it from costco

  4. That's a wonderful dish. I am gluten free and an Indian who blogs about gluten free recipes from Indian chapatti to English bread. Quinoa is great and I eat it as a grain. Your dish with indian spices look terrific.

  5. Great post on Quinoa! I miss eating it in its many forms..haven't come across it anywhere in Pune..

    Whole Foods used to have it in the bulk bins too..

  6. Love Quinoa and I'm also in that Quinoa-phase where I'm constantly trying to make it and serve it in many interesting ways :)Love this Indian style dish, so flavorful yet so simple!Thanks for sharing Vijitha 🙂

  7. I ate this and I loved it! And now I have a recipe to make this at home 🙂

  8. Love the alternatives and yummyness quinoa provides in so many recipes!! This recipe has similar tones of poha, in a healthier twist of course 😉

  9. I was telling one of my friends who had gestational diabetes to eat more quinoa.. but she doesnt feel full after eating that. I think too much card addiction(she is used to a lot of rice) makes you feel that way.
    Love your presentation and the spiced up version!

  10. This sounds fabulous! And I have a great Boiled Egg Curry dish ths will go wonderfully with. I'm making it for dinner. Thank you fr all the great information about Quinoa too.

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