Indian spiced quinoa pilaf

Yes, this is actually a completely different quinoa dish from any that I have posted on this blog up till now.  Before I created this blog, I had really only made one type of quinoa dish, so I am loving that this continuing to write this blog is facilitating my exploration of more and more quinoa recipes.  This is a great one if you like curry flavours.  And please note how cauliflower makes a re-appearance here and is absolutely delicious in combination with the other ingredients.  (There may be a plethora of cauliflower recipes on  here in the near future because there was a large amount of fresh cauliflower at a once-a-month farmers market near my apartment so I went a bit nuts.)

This recipe makes a pretty large amount, so if you’re hesitant about whether you might like it or not, try a half recipe first.  You can also adjust the spices to your liking, as well as the olive oil and lemon dressing that goes over it.  It’s quite a versatile dish and could be served as a side with lamb or roast chicken or be a great meal all on its own.

Indian spiced quinoa pilaf (adapted from Indiaphile)

Ingredients – as a side dish, this could serve 8, or make 4 hearty portions

  • 1 cup quinoa (red, white or mixed) – fully cooked (I will not repeat myself when it comes to how to cook quinoa as I think I’ve already given basic instructions on this an annoying number of times)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or less depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder, separated
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, canned or pre-cooked
  • 1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh (I used frozen)
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (optional – I know cilantro is divisive so I typically don’t add it)

First, cook your quinoa.  While it’s cooking, spray a large skillet with some non-stick spray.  Add in the onion, turn to medium-high heat and cook until it softens and starts to turn a bit brown.  Add in a bit of water if it’s sticking.

Once the onion has softened, add in the cauliflower, turmeric, chili powder, cumin powder, a bit of salt, and some water. (I basically added in several splashes…you don’t want a lot, but just enough to ensure everything isn’t sticking – and the steam will help cook the cauliflower.)  Continue to keep an eye on it and stir frequently until the cauliflower begins to soften as well.  Super crunchy cauliflower has no place in this dish.

After 5-10 minutes and tasting your cauliflower, add in the garbanzo beans and peas.  Stir well to make sure they are heated through.  Then mix in the cooked quinoa and continue to stir – let it all blend over low heat for a few minutes while you are making the dressing of sorts.

In a small bowl, mix together 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp of cumin powder.  The ratio of olive oil to lemon is really up to you, but I like to be pretty heavy handed with the lemon since I love citrus.  Whisk it together well with a fork.  Give the quinoa pilaf in your pan one final stir, turn off the heat, and pour the lemon olive oil mixture all over it, stirring well.  Taste and season with a bit of extra sea salt or other spices if desired.  This tastes great at room temperature or warm.  If using cilantro, mix it in right before serving.

IMG_4972Onions sauteing with the cauliflower ready to go

IMG_4973Adding in the cauliflower and spices

IMG_4974Ok so I accidentally skipped a few steps.  The day I made this I was having a dinner party so was actually cooking about 5 things at once at this moment.  Basically, mix in all the other ingredients.

IMG_4977Finished product ready to serve

This tasted entirely different from any other quinoa dish I’ve ever made and I really liked it.  The cauliflower, peas, and garbanzo beans were all welcome additions and I liked the spice combination that gave it a bit of heat and additional flavour.  I would love to see a bit more green vegetable in here though so maybe next time I’ll add broccoli in addition to the cauliflower…

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