Quick and quirky quinoa

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Heralded as a superfood, the seed can be easily adapted to a range of dishes, writes MYTHILI IYER
Quinoa, pronounced as ‘keen-wah,’ is actually a seed but can be prepared like rice or barley, and can be incorporated in different ways in our daily meals. It takes less time to cook compared to the other grains like rice, barley or lentils. There is a red variety of quinoa as well, which takes a slightly longer time to cook.
Totally organic, quinoa provides the highest protein and it is totally gluten free and cholesterol free. It is also generally low in calories and fat, but is considered as the best supplementary grain because of its high protein content. Quinoa was a staple food in South America as one of the few crops they cultivated at high altitudes. It is great for those suffering from migraines as it contains magnesium, which relaxes the blood vessels. The seed is usually available in grocery stores, health food shops or can be ordered online.
Because of its versatility, many meals can be prepared using quinoa. Try out some of these healthy recipes using this natural, healthy seed.
Quinoa and veg upma
A nutritious and quick fix snack
1 small packet sago
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 packet salted groundnuts/peanuts, powdered
4-5 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1-2 green chillies, sliced (optional)
1 tsp tamarind paste or south Indian vathalkuzhambu mix
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp asafoetida
1½ cup mixed veggies
2-3 tbsp oil
2-3 tsp salt, as per taste
2-3 tsp chopped fresh coriander
Soak sago for about 2 hours, then rinse and filter, leaving to drain for 10 minutes, to prevent it from becoming mushy. Fry half the sliced onions in a thick bottomed frying pan, add the sliced boiled potatoes and shallow fry. Keep aside. Add some more oil to the pan, add the rest of the onions and sliced green chillies, and fry them till the onion turn golden brown. Add the mixed veggies and cook till soft, taking care not to overcook. Add the quinoa flakes and roast along with the other ingredients for about 5 minutes, then add the sago, salt and chilli powder. Add the tamarind paste or south Indian vathalkuzhambu mix and stir through gently, mixing well. Cook on low fire for about 5 minutes, covering the pan. Finally, add the powdered salted peanuts and finely chopped coriander as the topping. Mix again and serve hot with green chutney or coconut chutney.
Quinoa frittata
A low GI healthy snack, made more filling with quinoa
2 cups quinoa flakes (red variety is more healthy)
3 medium zucchini
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
½ cup Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water
¼ cup basil, finely chopped
½ cup wholemeal flour
2 tsp salt
Cook quinoa according to the instructions on the package. In a bowl, beat the eggs till fluffy and frothy. In an oven proof pan, grate the zucchini and cook it till it browned. Add garlic, sundried tomatoes sliced into small pieces and cook the mix for about 3 minutes. Add the precooked quinoa, wholemeal flour, salt and finally pour in the beaten egg, cheese and chopped basil. Mix well and semi-cook on fire. Shape into rectangular shaped patties and finally bake in the oven at 120 degree Celsius for about 8 to 10 minutes till it gets brown coating from top of the patties. Serve when crispy and hot as a wholesome breakfast along with a bowl of mixed fruit for a balanced meal to start the day.
Quinoa patties
Makes 25, delicious crispy patties
2 cups quinoa flakes
2 large potatoes, boiled
5 finely chopped green chillies
1 tsp garlic paste
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 cup besan (chana flour)
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
Breadcrumbs to roll the patties
Oil for frying
In a large bowl, mash the boiled potatoes and add all the other ingredients, except the breadcrumbs. Knead until well mixed and make small balls, approx. the size of a medium lemon. Roll them into the breadcrumbs, and press gently to make a flat shape. In a non-stick frying pan, shallow fry the patties, and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve hot and crisp with spicy and tangy green chutney or chilli sauce.
If you prefer to add more veggies, chop them finely and semi-cook in the microwave. Add to the mix when making the patties. They will also add a touch of colour to the dish.

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