April 20, 2013

Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi

I hadn't made any Quinoa dinners lately and Tony is a huge fan. He mentioned a few days ago that he'd like some. Then one of my friends on FB posted a picture of a Quinoa and Lentil pilaf that she'd tried for her family. I figured I needed to make that today. I also had a head of white cauliflower that I needed to use this weekend. So I ran a Google search for Quinoa and Lentils and came up with the perfect recipe which used all 3 ingredients that I had on hand. Here's the end result :) Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi

A Khichdi (Kh-itch-dee) is a mildly flavored preparation of lentils and rice, the ultimate comfort food. Variations of the same basic theme (lentils, rice, vegetables) can be found across the entire Indian Subcontinent. Today's preparation excludes the rice, and includes Quinoa instead to up the protein content and lower the carbohydrate content.  

Cilantro Quinoa Khichdi
Adapted from: Food and Wine - Red Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf

Prep Time: 30-40 min

Ingredients (6 Servings): 
  1. 1 cup Masoor Dal (whole red lentils, with skin - also called Brown Lentils)
  2. 1.25 cup Quinoa
  3. 1 Head of Cauliflower, shredded (~2 cups)
  4. 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced (~1 cup)
  5. 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro leaves (Stems removed)
  6. 1 tbsp Garlic
  7. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  8. 1 tbsp Ground Cilantro Seeds
  9. 1-2 tsp Ground Mustard 
  10. 1 tsp Onion powder
  11. 1 tsp Garlic powder
  12. 1 tsp Turmeric
  13. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  14. Hot Sauce (optional)
Rinse lentils in water and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water (or home-made vegetable broth), for 1 cup of lentils, add turmeric and 1 tsp salt. Pressure cook under high pressure for at 20 minutes. Allow steam to dissipate on its own. Once all the pressure is dissipated, open, drain lentils and save the excess broth for use later. Cover and set aside. Meanwhile rinse out quinoa in running water (until the water runs clear) and transfer to a stock pot. Add 2.5 cups of water, for 1.25 cups of quinoa. Add 1 tsp each of Garlic and onion powders and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered until quinoa is cooked through and most of the excess water has evaporated. Cover and set aside. 

While the lentils and quinoa are cooking, in a pan large enough to hold everything, add a thin layer of water. Add minced garlic and saute until aromatic. Then add minced onions and a couple of pinches of salt and cook until excess water evaporates and onions are translucent (~3-4 minutes on medium-high). Add cumin seeds, coriander and mustard powders at this stage, toss well and add shredded cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium and cook this mixture together until the excess water has evaporated. Taste test this cauliflower onion mixture for spices and salt and add more of the same 3 spices and salt, as needed, to taste. At this stage, the mixture should taste 'over' spiced. Remember that you're still going to be adding 1 cup of lentils and 1.25 cups of cooked quinoa. Once the mixture is spiced to your taste, add fresh cilantro leaves (saving a couple sprigs for garnishing) and toss well. The warm cauliflower/onion mix will imbibe the essential oils and flavors from the cilantro leaves as they wilt with the heat. Once ready, toss lentils with the cauliflower/onion mix and the add quinoa and toss everything together. If the mixture appears too dry, add some of the saved lentil broth to add moisture to the dish. Serve warm, with freshly cracked black pepper, and more fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 201 (Fat Calories 24)
Total Fat 2.6 g; Carbohydrates 39.8 g; Fiber 10.0 g; Sugars 1.9 g; Protein 11.6 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary tremendously.

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