I acknowledge that it’s not hip to actively love quinoa. To need it in lieu of starchy, snow-white rice. To eat it since you just like the style, and never as a result of it’s in all probability a more healthy choice.
However I’ve at all times had a tender spot for the grain. It’s healthful and nutty. I just like the chia seed-esque texture. That is an unpopular opinion amongst most of my mates, who suppose quinoa tastes musty. Till they fight my aunt Sangeeta’s Quinoa Shrimp Pulao.
Some background on my aunt Sangeeta: She is a extremely sensible, bespectacled pediatrician who loves her two Instantaneous Pots nearly as a lot as she loves quinoa. She and her husband Hemant have lengthy been the most important well being nuts of our prolonged household. She found quinoa when she was recognized with prediabetes a number of years in the past and on the lookout for a grain with a low glycemic index to eat with dal rather than rice. Quinoa ticked numerous well being bins: It was excessive in fiber, excessive in protein. She turned not only a quinoa fan, however a quinoa ambassador.
Quickly, she was substituting it in any recipe that known as for any grain. In Indian delicacies, rice is the spine in lots of dishes, each candy and savory. Sangeeta has discovered a strategy to sneak quinoa into khichdi (a lentil and rice porridge), a Mulligatawny-like soup (usually containing rice), and even kheer (a cardamom-y rice pudding). A few of these selections don’t make a lot sense to me (khichdi ought to ALWAYS be made with rice. Interval!), whereas others have been shock wins (quinoa kheer! It’s like chia seed pudding with out the sliminess). However the best hit in Sangeeta Mami’s quinoa canon is the quinoa shrimp pulao.
Pulao is eaten throughout a lot of South Asia. It’s rice cooked shortly in water with a number of spices and greens (similar to a pilaf)—the form of factor Indian mother and father know they will pull out of nowhere when dinner must be on the desk sooner slightly than later. After I was rising up, pulao was one of many few dishes my dad knew how you can make. He’d throw rice, water, turmeric, cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick, dal, and the contents of a packet of frozen veggies (those with the cubed carrots, peas, and inexperienced beans) right into a casserole dish, microwave the entire thing for 30 minutes, and serve it to us with a facet of yogurt (and sometimes, ketchup). It was an entire meal in a single: rice, veggies, dairy. It was nourishing, however not that thrilling. Somewhat one word. Somewhat mushy.
Then, one afternoon, I used to be hanging out at Sangeeta’s, and she or he put out leftovers for lunch—dal, paneer, inexperienced bean sabzi, and her pulao. As an alternative of rice, it had quinoa, crunchy bell peppers, and plump items of shrimp. It was seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric, and inexperienced chiles. I took a chew. This was probably the most fascinating pulao I had ever eaten. There have been colourful, crisp greens that didn’t come out of a packet. The garlic, ginger, and inexperienced chiles brightened the dish. The shrimp—together with the quinoa—absorbed the seasonings exceptionally effectively. The grains have been fluffy. The quinoa didn’t style bitter, or overly earthy.
I requested Sangeeta to point out me how you can make her pulao for my cookbook, Indian-ish, and the approach, I discovered, is to cook dinner every thing on low warmth. Properly, you begin by sweating a chopped yellow onion in some oil over medium-high warmth in a Dutch oven, you then flip the warmth right down to low and add two chopped Serrano chiles, 4 minced garlic cloves, a pinch of floor turmeric, and 2½ tablespoons of ginger. Add a pound of shrimp, cook dinner these for 5 minutes, then add two diced peppers and a pinch of salt, and cook dinner for a number of extra minutes. The shrimp will flip mild pink, and the peppers will turn into barely tender. The low warmth is how the shrimp keep juicy and never rubbery, and the way the peppers preserve their crunch. After the shrimp and peppers cook dinner, you fold in three cups of cooked quinoa. The ultimate trick is endurance. When you end cooking every thing, you flip the warmth off, and let the dish sit for 15 minutes earlier than serving. This permits the liquid to evaporate, making the grains mild and cheerful.