Quinoa Pilau

Servings : Serves 3-4

Quinoa is a very healthy seed alternative to grains like rice. Unlike rice and wheat, quinoa is a protein, so it is much lighter on the system. You can prepare it completely simple as seen in my previous recipe found HERE and serve it with an accompaniment, mix it in your salads, wraps, etc. Or you can pimp it up into this fragrant, colouful, nutritious and super delicious pilau.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 capsicum, cubed small
  • 1 small potato, finely diced (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet corn
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • salt to taste
  • some chopped fresh coriander


Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse it out thoroughly under running water. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. As soon as the cumin seeds splutter, add the chopped onion and fry until slightly golden. Next add the chopped tomato, ginger, garlic paste and the chopped green chilli. Cook this down for a few minutes until the tomato becomes completely soft and mushy. You can add a splash of water any time you find the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Then add all the veggies. Capsicum, sweet corn and carrot. Since quinoa is actually a protein, you could add a small diced potato for the carbs but if you want to skip the carbs leave the potato out. As for the veggies, any combination that you have or prefer will be fine. Stir these veggies until they are well coated with the tomato mixture. Then add the broth or water (broth will add nutrients and flavour so I prefer using it, but water will work too). Add the washed and drained quinoa, salt and pepper. 

Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover the pan. Continue to cook, giving an occasional stir. Once the liquid has diminished (but not gone completely), turn the heat down to it's lowest point, clamp on a tight fitting lid and allow the quinoa to continue cooking undisturbed for another 10 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, open the pan and use a fork to fluff up the quinoa. Cover it again and just set it aside to stand for another 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve as you would a rice pilau. I enjoy it with some fresh thick yoghurt, it also goes well with some kachumbar, raita, pickle or tomato chutney.


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