Quinoa Pilaf

Alright folks….here goes a recipe for Quinoa Pilaf. Quinoa is a whole grain, rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese, has 22 grams of protein per dry cup and gluten-free. At the cost of about $1 per dry cupful, it is a low-cost and healthy addition to our diet. I had submitted this earlier this year at a recipe contest and it snagged the winning place. Since this was formally submitted, it actually has quantities; feel free to modify and play with it.


* 1-2 tablespoons unscented oil (I like canola)
* 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

Quinoa Pilaf / Upma

Quinoa Pilaf

* 1/4”-thin slice of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
* 1/4 – 1/2 jalapeno or any other hot pepper, chopped fine and unseeded
* 3/4 – 1 cup thinly sliced onions (any type of onion you have on hand)
* 1 cup carrots peeled and sliced into thin fingers
* 1/2 cup redskin roasted peanuts (you can also use skinned peanuts if you prefer)
* 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
* Salt to taste
* Red chili powder (optional)
* Handful – 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves including soft stems
* 1 cup dry white or red quinoa
* 1.25 – 1.5 cups water


Most white quinoa in the market is pre-rinsed to remove bitter saponins. Red quinoa tends to need rinsing prior to use. If you wish, you may rinse once more under cold running water in a strainer.

If you are using a pressure cooker : put water in the base, put the quinoa into a vessel that fits into the base and add 1.25 cups of water. Pressure cook for two whistles / bursts and turn off. Do not open the cooker for at leat an hour. If you wish, you can store the cooked and covered quinoa for a day or two in the fridge.

If you are using a saucepan, combine 1 cup quinoa with 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 5-7 minutes until grains are translucent and the germ has come out of the quinoa, making it look like your grain has a tail! Keep cover on to finish cooking and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Heat oil until it just starts to smoke. Keeping heat on the lowest setting, add mustard seeds and they will pop immediately. As soon as they pop, add the ginger, jalapeno and onions. Increase heat to medium, and stir fry. When onion turns translucent, add carrot sticks, and peanuts. If using fresh peas, add now. Stir a minute or two until carrot is just starting to become tender. If using frozen peas, add now. Continue to gently stir until vegetables are just cooked but firm. Add salt to taste, and red chili powder if you are using. Add the quinoa and cilantro, turn to mix and turn off heat.


  • You can add other vegetables like minced garlic, chopped green onions and chopped cabbage in lieu of or with the ones used in the recipe.
  • To get a moister pilaf, add a couple of chopped tomatoes along with the carrot.
  • Other spices you can add are cumin seeds & dried red chillies just after the mustard.
  • All amounts are to taste except for the proportion of quinoa and water!

Servings: 4 as a large side dish, 6-8 as a small side


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