Lemon Quinoa

Do you like Lemon Rice? The tangy, lemon scented, crunchy and nutty Lunch Box favorite from South of India?

You would love it with the Quinoa twist then. Same fresh flavor with fraction of the carbs and loaded with protein.

You'll be a convert. I promise you that!

During my almost 3 year stay in Hyderabad, I made great friends. We shared our lives, our success, our failures, our frustrations, our achievements and our lunch boxes too. I used to be extremely happy whenever anybody brought Lemon Rice. It was spicy, tangy, crunchy (from all the nuts) and utterly flavorful.

It is a breeze to make and a good way to use up leftover plain rice. I learnt it quickly and it soon became a family favorite. Since, Lemon Rice tastes equally good warm or at room temperature and stays fresh for a long time, it is a very popular item for picnics, potlucks and long travels. My Mother-in-law, will definitely pack a yummy box of Lemon Rice, whenever she is travelling.

The recipe I shared is an elaborate one. You can do with or without onions and ginger. I would really recommend the ginger. It does make an impact. I used both cashew and peanuts. You can opt for either one, or leave the nuts out altogether. But Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves, and the Skinned and Split Lentils are critical to the recipe and imparts the unique flavor and aroma to the Lemon Rice(or Quinoa). And of course, you need the Lemons

You can't have Lemon Quinoa without Lemons ... can you! 

I have also used a little zest. It's not traditional, but it gives an intense lemony flavor.

Just swapping cooked Rice for cooked Quinoa completely changes the nutritional profile of the dish. One cup of cooked Quinoa has about 40 fewer calories than the same amount of White Rice. White Rice has almost 15 times more grams of carbohydrates, and Quinoa provides 5 more grams of fiber and double the protein. The bottom line: Quinoa will not only help you cut calories, but it will also fill you so that you end up eating less.

And before we head to the recipe, here's some of my other Favorite Quinoa recipes:
Quinoa Cornbread Muffins
Chicken and Quinoa Patties with Carrots and Zucchini
Black Bean, Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potato Burgers... or lets just call it The Superfood Burger!!!
Quinoa Pilaf - My Weeknight Staple

Recipe Snapshot: Lemon Quinoa

Serves: 2 serving
(1 serving = 1/2 cup)

What I used:
Quinoa- 1 cup, cooked (little less than 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa)

Raw Peanuts - 1 tablespoon
Raw Cashew - 1 tablespoon

Red Onion - 1, medium sized, sliced
Green Chilies - 2 or 3 (depending on heat tolerance), chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
Hing / Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp

Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Whole Dry Red Chili - 2 nos
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig (about 6-7 leaves)
Urad Dal / Black Gram Lentil (Skinned and Split) - 1/2 tsp
Chaana Dal / Bengal Gram Lentil (Skinned and Split) - 1/2 tsp

Lemon Juice - Juice and zest of half a lemon
Canola or Olive Oil - 2 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Cilantro/ Coriander Leaves - a big handful, finely chopped

What I did:

1. In a wide pan, dry roast the peanuts and cashew over low heat till lightly golden, fragrant and no longer raw. Keep aside.

2. In a deep pan or skillet, heat two tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds.

3. Once the mustard seeds stops spluttering, add the Whole Dry Red Chilies and the Urad Dal [Black Gram Lentil (Skinned and Split)] and the Chaana Dal [Bengal Gram Lentil (Skinned and Split)] and fry on medium low heat till golden.

4. Next, add the Roasted Peanut and Cashews and fry till they get some color.

5. Now, add the Sliced Onions, chopped Green Chilies, and the Curry Leaves, followed by Grated Ginger, Turmeric Powder and Hing / Asafoetida and Salt and mix well. Cook till the onions are softened and the raw smell of Turmeric Powder is gone. You can also add a bit of lemon zest at this point.

6. Now add the cooked Quinoa and give it a good mix. Do a taste test and adjust the salt accordingly.

7. Take it off the flame and add the juice of half a lemon and mix well. Taste and add some lemon juice if you feel like.

8. Add a handful of chopped Cilantro/ Coriander Leaves and mix well. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. It tastes awesome any which way.

Notes/Tip: Leftover quinoa works best for this recipe. If preparing fresh, let the quinoa cool down to room temperature before mixing with the masala. If using fridge cold, microwave for 45 seconds till it is at room temperature.

Lemon Zest is not traditionally used in this but it gives an intense lemony flavor.

Diabetic Platter:
As you can see, Quinoa is one of my favorite replacement for rice. It is super quick to cook. Its ready in 15 minutes. It is delicious. I love its nutty flavor. And most importantly, of all the whole grains, Quinoa has the highest protein content, which keeps you fuller longer and also prevents spikes in your blood sugar. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free, cholesterol-free, vegan friendly and also Kosher approved.


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