Monday, January 6, 2014

Cooking Quinoa - Fluffy and Right

Quinoa - I have mixed feeling about using this grain. With wide spread coverage of how demand for this grain in the West is hurting farmers made me scale back and think twice before buying Quinoa. Like everything else there is nothing straight forward about news in the Western press that guilt trips consumers. Price stability for their produce in South America is good for the farmers but exploiting the land to meet the demand is where the problem lies. Read this salon article for a more nuanced overview of the problem.

As for me Quinoa is not a staple in our house but we eat it occasionally - about once a week or once in two weeks. The first time I tasted Quinoa I did not like it. I made soup with it and the mushy overcooked texture made it pretty much unpalatable. I laid off Quinoa for a while after that. I couldn't completely ignore it though, after a couple of years hiatus I went back to it but this time around I spent a little bit more time and found a way to cook it so it tastes better.

Soak the Quinoa in water, wash till water runs clear. Heat water till boiling.
Add the boiling water to the quinoa, cover with lid and cook for 6 minutes in medium heat. Stir cover and cook again for another 6 minutes. Keep covered for another 5 minutes.

Tea filters which have several uses besides filtering tea.
Quinoa can easily be substituted for rice and eaten with curries, made into flavored rice like recipes and of course cutlets and the like. So here is an almost fool proof way of making fluffy and rightly cooked Quinoa. I have found Quinoa cooks fastest when it is soaked and tastes good when it is rinsed a few times.

Cooking Quinoa - Fluffy and Right
Soaking Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 cups of Red/Black/White Quinoa - Quinoa : Water :: 1 : 1.5
  2. 2 1/4 cups of water

  1. Soak the Quinoa in plenty of water and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Wash with several changes of water till the water runs clear. ( Very Important, see Note:) Draining quinoa is a hard task. I use my tea strainer to drain the water. Any sieve with holes tiny enough to hold the quinoa should work.
  2. Bring the water to boil in a sauce pan. Transfer about 1/2 cup of water to another container.
  3. Now add the Quinoa into the boiling water and turn the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and cook for 6 minutes. Open the lid give a good stir and add the saved 1/2 cup or less of water if the Quinoa is still hard. Cover and Cook for another 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for another 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Note:Make sure to remember that rinsing quinoa is an important step. The seeds are coated with saponins, naturally-occurring plant chemicals that can cause a bit of a bitter taste. Their purpose is to keep insects from eating the plant! Courtesy:Whole Foods Market
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  1. Hi ISG!

    Thanks for this excellent tutorial on quinoa cookery. Up here in the hinterlands the only TV is public tv (and that's ok with me!). I happened to walk in today while dg was watching a show and it was something about needing to rinse quinoa several times in order to remove some sort of bitter/rancid tasting compound called saponin (sp?) from the outer coating. This saponin evidently prevents birds and other pests from eating the 'grain' (which according to the article listed below, is not actually a grain, but is related to beets and CHARD? who knew).

    While I don't know the politics of quinoa, I did find this article with lots of interesting information -- perhaps you'd enjoy reading it :)

    Now, do we use your spicy tamarind mix (oh, that looks SO GOOD) to dress the quinoa? :)

    1. Thanks Linda. I updated the post with the information. Beets and Chard - both my favorite vegetables. Maybe that is why I like quinoa?!

      You guessed it. Recipe coming up soon :)


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