Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fragrant Quinoa Pulao

It's official. I'm obsessed with my Instant Pot. Is there anything that it can't do?

It's a new year, and I made an inventory of the various foods I have in my pantry, freezer and fridge, and realized I have a fair amount of quinoa. I keep buying it because I know it's high in protein, which is good for fasting periods, but I never cook it.  Yesterday, was the day to cook the oldest package of quinoa, which was prewashed and just under 2 cups.

I had watched a YouTube video on how to make quinoa pulao which looked tasty, and I adapted it to what I had on hand and to the instant pot. Keep in mind, that quinoa cooks quickly, so once you add the quinoa to the pot, you can easily cook it on the stove top - just follow the package directions for the timing, but use the proportion of 1 part quinoa to 1 1/2 parts liquid, if you want fluffy quinoa. You can also substitute rice in this dish.

Don't be afraid of the long list of ingredients - it's mostly spices, so measure your spices out first, and then get cooking.  If you don't have all the spices listed, I'll make some suggestions at the end of the post. Use any neutral flavored oil - I used coconut oil.  Use any combination of vegetables, but make sure you use a minimum of 3 cups, 4 would be better, IMHO, and frozen veggies are fine. Just use what you have - I had frozen corn and broccoli. I probably should have chopped the broccoli a bit, but I didn't.

This recipe makes a very fragrant, but mildly spiced pulao. You can amp up the heat according to your taste, of course, but the mildness means that it will go well with nearly every meal.

2 C quinoa (rinsed well, if not pre-rinsed)
2 Tbs oil
1 Bay leaf
3 cardamom pods *optional, but can substitute ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper, or 4 peppercorns, crushed
1/4 tsp ground cloves, or 4 whole cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp turmeric

Over medium high heat, saute the above spices in the oil for 2 - 3 minutes
1 medium onion, minced
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 green chile, seeded and minced (I didn't have this, so I used 1 dried chili arbol - you can use a couple of pinches red pepper flakes, too)

Add the above to the spices and saute until the onion is translucent
Add the quinoa, and saute for about 5 minutes, to toast it a little bit.

You'll need to keep stirring, or it will stick. You could add more oil, but I didn't want to do that, so I kept stirring every minute or so.

Add 3 - 4 cups of veggies: peas, corn, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato - whatever.

You can add beans or legumes, too as long as they are already cooked

Mix in the veggies, and then add the final group of spices:

1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt

Mix in the spices, saute for just a minute or two, then add the liquid:

3 C water or broth (scant)
1/8 C lemon or lime juice

For Instant Pot: cover, set on high pressure and cook for 4 minutes, use natural pressure release.  Fluff with a fork

For top of stove: cook quinoa according to package directions, using the same proportions.

You could make this in a rice cooker, too, but you'll have to look up the timing for your particular model.

Subtitutions: Make sure you use garam masala, but you could substitute some pumpkin pie spice mix for some of the other spices, using your judgement. I wouldn't really recommend using "curry powder" instead of garam masala, unless it's a particularly tasty and fragrant mix. Many curry powders have a high proportion of turmeric to the other spices, to give the impression that you are getting more spice than you actually are, and too much turmeric simply tastes like dirt. So, I stay away from curry powder most of the time. (I do have some in my spice drawer, so do as I say and not as I do, ok?)

I measured out the spices according to the different steps, measured out the quinoa, veggies and water, and, chopped and minced everything, before I started cooking. Think of this more like a stir fry, where you need to have everything ready before you cook.

I had two bowls for lunch and it was delicious - very fragrant, the tiniest bit of heat, and mild.

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