Monday, February 10, 2014

Quinoa & Lentil Pilaf

Dear Foodies,

 
I've been bringing home big bunches of menthikura (fenugreek leaves) from my trip for Indian groceries. During the off season I get a miserly 20-25 sprigs for 2$ and now its thrice that quantity for the same price. So now I'm trying to find new recipes since the usual suspects -  andhra style pappu, aloo methi fry, methi malai paneer have been covered. For lunch last week I was looking to use quinoa instead of rice and decided to make this puloa/pilaf.

To cook quinoa by first toasting the seeds in a dry pan. This adds a nice nuttiness and also keeps them from turning into a mush if cooked a few extra minutes. As they toast the seeds begin to pop which is my cue to take them off the heat and rinse them under cold water. Based on the batch/brand that you buy you may have to rinse the seeds multiple times to get rid of the bitter outer coating. Once water runs clear I add water in the ratio of 1:1.5 and bring it to a boil. Add salt and whole spices or spice powders at this stage for extra flavor. Then set to lowest heat setting, cover and cook for 15-20 mins until all the of water is absorbed.

I had a huge bunch of methi leaves, freshly shucked peas and carrots on hand. Quinoa is a good vegetarian source of protein but I bumped it up with whole green lentils. Cook them in twice the amount of water, bring to a boil, add salt/spices and simmer for 10-15 mins until al dente i.e., they still retain a bite. Technically you could cook the lentils along with quinoa but they tend to discolor the cooking liquid and I did not want that. I was cooking a bigger batch of lentils to use later anyway so it worked out well.
Quinoa - Lentil Pilaf
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 15-20 mins
Serves - 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup - Quinoa, cooked; (see note above for cooking method)
  • 1/2 cup - Brown/Green lentils, cooked
  • 1 cup - Fenugreek/methi/menthikura leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup - Carrots, grated
  • 1/4 cup - Green peas
  • 1/2 tsp - Coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp - Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds
  • 4-5 - Curry leaves
  • 2 - Green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1/2 tsp - Urad dal (Ivory lentils)
  • 1/8 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 1 Tbsp - Peanuts and Cashews
  • 2 Tbsp - Olive Oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Cook quinoa and lentils separately. (See my notes above for cooking method)
  2. Heat oil in a wide saute pan on medium heat, add mustard and cumin seeds. Once the seeds begin to splutter add urad dal, peanuts and cashews and toast until reddish brown. Add turmeric, curry leaves, green chillies, methi leaves and saute for a few minutes. Grated carrots and peas go in next along with coriander powder and salt. Cover and cook the vegetables for 6-7 mins on medium-to-low heat.
  3. Add quinoa and lentils, mix thoroughly and cover again for 8-10 mins on the lowest heat setting to allow flavors to meld.

I enjoy the crunchy texture of quinoa and its perfect here with the mild bitterness from the fenugreek leaves, sweet peas, earthy lentils and occasional cashews and peanuts. I used a mandoline and not a grater to shred carrots which helps them retain their shape and stay separate when cooked. I served this with a dollop of labneh with pomegranate seeds. Yogurt would have been my go-to choice if I hadn't run out of it. Pomegranate seeds added a bit of tartness which is nice here, or a wedge of lime would do the trick too. And if you think I've focused more on the fabric than the dish itself in these photos then your not totally wrong :D I fell in love with the print and had to buy it though I have no clue what I'll use it for!

8 thoughts:

evolvingtastes said...

Priya, this sounds like the perfect combination of flavors! I too have plenty of methi on hand right now (it's the season!), and will try to give this a try.

Priya V said...


ET, the store had run out of methi when I stopped by today, I think I jinxed it :)

sweetartichoke.com said...

Yum! Quinoa with an Indian touch, that sounds delicious! I love methi and I love quinoa... had never thought of such a nice combination.

evolvingtastes said...

Made it! Very lovely flavors, not spicy, but powerful. Methi, carrot and peas are great together so I already sensed winner and it did not disappoint. :) Thank you Priya.

Priya V said...


ET, That was quick! Glad you liked it too :)

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Hari Chandana P said...

Very healthy and delicious pilaf.. Awesome photography!!

Simi J said...

Looks so colorful and healthy

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