Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Quinoa Upma

Upma is a south-indian dish that is made from dry roasted semolina (most popular), fine/cracked wheat or vermicelli (thinner type of spaghetti). Upma is usually cooked with seasonings/ vegetables (optional) and can be prepared in several ways.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a nutritious grain with edible seeds. It has a light and fluffy texture with a mild nutty flavor and resembles couscous (made from semolina). Quinoa is an excellent source of protein and is good option for vegetarian/vegans. Quinoa is very versatile and can be used as cereals, in soups/salads or as a substitute for rice. Apart from using it as a rice substitute, I frequently make schezuan quinoa (similar to schezuan rice) and quinoa upma. Its simple, healthy and a good way to get your veggies for the day !!


1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, cut lengthwise
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water (use in the ratio of 1 : 2, i.e., for 1 cup quinoa, use 2 cups water)
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)

For tempering:

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp urad dhal
1 1/2 tsp channa dhal
2 tbsp light olive oil
Few curry leaves


In a pan, on medium heat, add oil (you can use 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp oil and add 1 tbsp water when frying the onions), add mustard seeds, urad dhal and channa dhal. When the mustard seeds starts to splutter and the urad/ channa dhal turn  slightly brown, add the onion, green chillies and curry leaves. Sauté until the onions turn slightly brown (add 1 tbsp water to fry them).

Add the mixed vegetables (if using fresh, cook the veggies until they are half done), turmeric powder, chilli powder and mix well. Cook the vegetables for 4-5 mins and until the raw smell of the chilli powder is gone. 

Add the quinoa and water and mix well. When the water starts to boil, add salt and lemon juice and cover with lid and simmer (on low flame) until the quinoa is cooked completely and the water is absorbed (takes about 13-15 mins). Add chopped cilantro and mix well. Serve hot with coconut chutney or your favorite pickle.

For variation, you can add different spices like garam masala/ curry / sambar powder instead of chilli powder.

Makes 4-5 servings.

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