Saturday, March 17, 2012
Vegetable & Quinoa Cakes | Guest post for Anu @ Truth Personified
The last few weeks have been overcast and the temperatures have been lower than usual. Cloudy skies and rain conjure up the need to wrap your hands around a warm cup of tea and crispy, crunchy snack to go with it. I've been on a quinoa cooking spree lately and trying to use it in as many recipes as possible. This recipe is a result of one such attempt that turned out to be most delightful of them all.
Quinoa (keen-wah) though often grouped into the 'whole-grain' club, is really a seed of plant closely related to beets and spinach. The ancient Incan's considered it scared and gave it the name Quinoa which meant 'mother grain'. I guess the confusion of seed vs grain started early :) In recent times, this South American crop has gained popularity due to its nutritional value. Its a rich source of protein, essential amino acids and contains more fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium compared to wheat, corn or barley. Being naturally gluten-free makes it easy to digest and in general a better choice compared to other cereal grains.
Having been around for such a long time proves that these seeds have learnt to survive. They have a bitter outer coating which keeps birds away from them in the fields but when it comes to cooking with it, that coating needs to come off. Most quinoa that we get in the stores now is processed to take away this bitterness but it still needs a good wash under multiple changes of water (as you would with rice).
Quinoa is pretty versatile but it takes some getting used too in terms of flavor, specially if you are a rice lover like me. It has a nutty, slightly bitter and mildly crunchy texture, which now is what I like about it. I try to treat it like rice and substitute it in recipes for tomato rice, mixed veg pulao, chinese/thai fried rice, sambar rice and even pulihora/tamarind rice rice. I was cooking some quinoa for lunch one cloudy, rainy day and decided to make mini cakes with them instead. Chopped fresh fennel bulbs, onions, ginger, garlic and carrots went into it along with some spices. To prevent the mixture from getting too moist I used lemon zest instead of juice. For a binding agent, I did not have bread or breadcrumbs at home and remembered that I loved the nutty toasted besan/chickpeas flour in these corn cakes. Finally, along with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and roasted peanuts the cutlet came together beautifully!
Around this point is when I would jump to the recipe, but this post is special since its headed to Anu for her blog. Many of you might already know Anu from her enthusiastic comments and stories that she shares. She's the author of the blog Truth Personified and there could not have been a more perfectly suited name. Her genuineness and curiosity is what makes her blog a pleasure to read. I'm sure once you read the stories & recipes she shares, you will be persuaded to stay on. I knew Anu way before either of us blogged, we went to the same high school and later the same undergrad college as well. But we were in different batches and never really got to spend time together. It was again through her comments on my blog that we got in touch again. I was thrilled when she asked me to guest post but the excitement soon turned into major procrastination and I'm glad that she still held on to her invite :D So as a first step, I'm sending over a recipe to her space and hope that eventually we'll get to meet in person too!
Please head over to Truth Personified for the recipe - Vegetable & Quinoa Cakes