I am a food enthusiast. Food to me is not a matter of forks and knives alone. It is indeed equally mouth-watering to explore the history and mystery of food. The stories of origin of foods, their journey from their native land to across the world, their adaptation to different cuisines mystify my soul and pique my taste buds vicariously.
So to me, the proof of pudding is not only in its eating,but in its plating and preparation too. There is so much of creativity, intelligence , science, passion and chutzpah in conjuring up meals which are as much a treat to eyes and mind as they are to the tongue.
Molecular gastronomy has changed the face of fine dining. Chefs are making jalebis which have the look and texture of caviars. We find liquid nitrogen being used to make icecreams which are crystal free. Humble street food such as vada pav, pav bhaji and pani poori have now got their flamboyant new avatars. So vada pav can be eaten baked, pani poori with pani in test tubes and pav bhaji as pav bhaji fondue.
These are the days when gourmet is merging with street food and home cooked food is inching towards simple yet exotic preparations.
Maintaining good health to me now is about ration, passion, and fashion. Ration your portions, cook them with passion and serve them with fashion.
My pantry at home too is a mix of the quotidian with exotic and traditional stuff jostling with complex and new items.
One of the items that has found a permanent place in my pantry is a South American food item known as quinoa. So quinoa looks quite like amaranth seeds as it is a member of the amaranthcaea family. It was an important crop of the Inca empire back in the day. It is so nutritious and wholesome that it is considered the mother of all grains and is believed to be sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it only became trendy and reached super-food status a few years ago.
You can find quinoa and products made with it all over the world especially health food stores and restaurants that emphasize natural foods.
The year 2013 was actually called the International year of Quinoa by the Untied Nations based on its high nutrient value and potential to contribute to food security worldwide.
Now the beauty of quinoa is that it is a pseudo–cereal. In simple terms, it can be prepared like any cereal and yet be a grain-free product. It is a flowering plant like spinach, chard and beet. While we eat leaves of spinach, fruit of beet, we eat seeds of quinoa. Quinoa is an edible seed. It contains bio-active substances called quercetin and kaempferol and interesting molecules called flavonoids which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health. These molecules have anti-inflammatory,anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects.
Being a seed, it is rich in protein, filled with all nine amino acids and is richly endowed in fiber.
It is considered a super-food packed with antioxidants. It is excellent for weight watchers and people who are looking for gluten free food. It is called a soul food as it uplifts the spirits. It is naturally organic as there are no pesticides used in growing it. Pests and birds do not come near this plant as it is covered with natural saponins which birds and pests don’t like.
Quinoa- How to make
Quinoa is an extremely versatile seed and lends its easily to many dishes. It needs to be washed very well for saponins to go or one can get prewashed one in the market.
Soak for some time in water. One cup quinoa can yield about three cups of cooked quinoa. To cook I cup quinoa, one needs to add about 2 cups liquid. Put it in a saucepan to cook and it will be cooked in about 20 minutes. It is ready when one sees pearly and glistenin seeds.
Various ways one can make quick salads using quinoa:
- Take some cooked quinoa, add a lot of finally chopped basil leaves, finely chopped onions and tomatoes and some finely chopped dry fruits. One can also add some cooked kidney beans. Add salt to taste. Quinoa salad is ready.
- Take some cooked quinoa, add some salad leaves with a lot of arugula leaves, a few drops of olive oil and vinegar, toss all the items and quinoa salad is ready. One can keep an option of two tablespoons of orange juice preferable canned to be added for that unique fruity flavor.
- Make quinoa exactly like sewai upma or poha.
- You can add some cooked quinoa to your clear soups.