(pronounced keen-wa) has been culivated in the South
American Andes for 5000 years. Given the name ‘the mother
grain’ by ancient farmers, it was cultivated alongside
potatoes as a staple crop, and revered as sacred due to its
hardiness, nutritional value, and versatility. Like buckwheat,
it is called a grain, but it is technically the fruit of a plant
in the Chenopodium family. Quinoa is now grown in and exported
from Peru and the United States.
The annual plant is one to two metres high with large seed clusters
at the end of the stalk, similar to millet. In fact, the most popular
strain of Quinoa is pale yellow in appearance, and does resemble
millet in colour and size, although quinoa is more flattened than
So far as its food value is concerned, one researcher has said,
“ while no single food can supply all of the essential life-sustaining
nutrients, it (quinoa) comes as close as any other in the vegetable
or animal kingdoms.” It contains more protein than any other
grain: an average of 16.2 %, compared with 7.5 % for rice, 9.9 %
for millet, 8.2 % for barley, and 14 % for wheat. It has a good
balance of the amino acids that make up the protein and is high
in lycine, an amino acid not overly abundant in the vegetarian diet.
Quinoa is easy to cook, and like rice, blends well with other grains
or whole-grain pilafs. The cooked consistency is light, with a texture
Quinoa Tabbouli Salad
Preparation and cooking time: about 35 minutes
Makes enough for 6 persons
1¾ cups quinoa, about 340 grams
3½ cups water
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves,
¾ cup finely diced cucumbers
½ cup finely diced tomatoes
Rinse the quinoa in a large, fine sieve under cold running
water until the water runs clear. Drain the quinoa well.
Place the water and one teaspoon salt in a heavy 2-litre
saucepan and bring it to the boil over moderate heat. Add the quinoa,
return to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for ten
to fifteen minutes, or until the grains are translucent and fully
cooked, and the quinoa’s spiral-shaped germ ring has separated.
Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside, covered,
for 10 minutes to allow the quinoa to firm up.
Spoon out the quinoa and spread it on a flat dish to fully
cool. Then combine it with the yellow asafetida powder, the lemon
juice and olive oil, the remaining salt, black pepper, parsley,
and mint in a large bowl.
Add the cucumber and tomatoes, and toss to combine all
from Cooking with Kurma,
by Kurma Dasa
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