Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cilantro-Lime Quinoa



When we first came to the US, 5 years back, we totally fell in love with the Burrito Bowl from Chipotle. Amidst all burgers, hot dogs and french fries we were hogging down, the familiar bean and rice combination of the Burrito Bowl, became our comfort food. The flavors were different, yet strangely reminiscent of the ones that we left back home. 

Over the course of time, our Chipotle outing got greatly reduced. I started cooking more at home. Moreover, we started developing a more adventurous palate. Eating out was all about trying new cuisines; newer flavor.

I never realized when Chipotle, dropped off our "Favorite Places to Eat" list. 


One of the things I love about their Burrito Bowl is the Cilantro-Lime Rice and their Roasted Chili -Corn Salsa. The zippy Lime and the fragrant Cilantro - two of my favorite flavors! The love story was  just waiting to happen!

It's been a while I have given up White Rice. Even the Brown Rice spikes up my blood sugar like crazy. So I swapped Rice for Quinoa - my favorite Rice alternative!

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 up, so that you end up eating less.


I generally cook Quinoa, just the way I cook Pasta. I bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Then I add the washed and rinsed Quinoa. Once its tender (in about 5-7 mins), I drain it over a mesh strainer. Perfect fluffy Quinoa every time!

But for this particular recipe, I took the more traditional route - toasting the Quinoa (washed and rinsed, of course) and garlic in Coconut Oil and then gently steaming it, in a flavorful seasoned broth.


This Cilantro-Lime Quinoa is the perfect side dish. It is utterly flavorful, yet mild enough not to overpower the main dish, making it the perfect vessel for your Chili, Stew or Curry of choice. We even love it as a side to grilled meat or fish and steamed or roasted veggies. It is also the perfect base for a Chipotle-style Burrito Bowl!

So how will you like to enjoy this?

Recipe Snapshot: Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Serves: 4 serving(1 serving = 3/4 cup)

What I used:
Quinoa (uncooked) - 1 cup

Chicken or Vegetable Broth - 2 cups

Garlic - 1 fat clove, finely grated

Coconut Oil (or any other cooking oil of choice) - 2 tsp

Salt - 1 tsp, or to taste

Lime - zest and juice of 1 whole lime

Cilantro/ Coriander Leaves -1/4 cup packed, minced + more for garnish

What I did:
1. Give the raw, uncooked quinoa a good rinse. Easiest way is to take the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and running water through it, while scrubbing well for couple of minutes. This gets rid of 'saponin' which coats the seed and is responsible for the bitter and soapy after taste of quinoa.

2. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 2 teaspoon of Coconut Oil. I love the mild coconut flavor in this Cilantro - Lime Quinoa. But you can always substitute Olive Oil or Canola Oil instead.

3. Once the oil is warm, add the finely grated or minced garlic. Fry for 30 to 45 seconds, till the raw smell of the garlic is gone.

4. Add the washed and rinsed quinoa and saute till all the residual moisture in the quinoa is gone and it looks and smells toasted.

5. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and a teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil over high heat. (I used coarse sea-salt. If using regular table salt, add about half a teaspoon)

6. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and cook, uncovered for another 10 minutes or so, till most of the liquid is absorbed. Take it off the heat. Cover it and let it stand for about 10 minutes . By now the grains should have absorbed all of the liquid. Fluff it using a fork.

7. Add the zest and the juice of one whole lime, while the quinoa is still warm. Add the finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves as well and mix it thoroughly, but gently, taking care not to mush it up. Mixing with a fork helps.


8. Serve immediately while still warm. It is the perfect vessel for Chipotle-style Burrito Bowl. You can also have it with any Chili or Stew or Curry of your choice. Or even just by itself .

Diabetic Platter:
We already know how amazing Quinoa is from a health food standpoint. It is one of the super grain. It is very high in protein. Its protein balance is alike to milk and it has more protein in comparison to rice, millet or wheat. 
What is more amazing is that, Cilantro is an excellent heavy metal detoxifier. And Limes are known to remove toxins from the body. 

Lime and Cilantro, together with Quinoa, does a lot of good things for your body.
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