Quinoa is, what foodies would call an ancient grain. Not only is it packed full of protein, but, according to Wikipedia, it contains ‘contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source, unusual among plant foods. I struggle to get more protein into my daughter, especially as she doesn’t eat meat, and now refuses to eat fish as well, and quinoa is a good way to balance her diet.
Who said healthy eating means boring? Spicy, tangy, sweet and nutty, it encompasses everything, and each bite elicits a flavor packed taste sensation. I absolutely adore the Indian elements of this salad, and it appeals to my whole ethnic-local approach. Its quick to put together, and I love the fact that it can be adapted to pretty much anything you have in the cupboard. Eating healthier just got easier!
The lovely thing about quinoa is how well it takes on any kind of flavor you throw at it. This simple, Indian spiced dressing makes it the perfect dish for taking to potlucks and picnics. The salad is delicious at a barbeque as it can be made well in advance and is a great foil for simply grilled meats and vegetables.
You can pretty much throw in any vegetables you like into this salad, which makes it brilliant for using up odds and ends from your fridge. It is also portable and so makes for a flavor-packed, easy, light and healthy lunch to take to work as well.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups boiling hot stock
1 tsp Madras curry powder
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned)
1 large tomato, diced
½ medium onion, finely diced
¼ cup raisins
Large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
For the dressing –
1 – 2 tbsp light olive oil (don’t use extra-virgin)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp Madras curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
1) Rinse the quinoa and place in a pot. Add the hot stock and the curry powder, and let it simmer on a medium low heat for about 15 – 17 minutes, until all the stock is absorbed. Let it stand, covered for another 5 minutes.
2) Make the dressing. Place the lemon juice in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a small pan on a medium heat, and add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, take off the heat and add the chilli powder, Madras curry powder and ground cumin and let the spices toast together for about 45 seconds – 1 minute. Pour the hot oil mixture into the lemon juice, and whisk together until the dressing homogenises. Add about ½ tsp salt or to taste. Keep aside.
3) Place the cooked quinoa in a bowl, and add the chickpeas, diced tomato, diced onion, raisins and fresh coriander. Stir together.
4) Stir in the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve just warm or cold.
- You can add any kind of beans to the salad.
- You could also add other vegetables like diced carrots, celery, peppers or mushrooms to the salad to bulk it out a bit.
- Feel free to use a little extra lemon juice, if you like your salad quite tangy.
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