Spiced Quinoa Pilaf made in a Rice Cooker

6 Jul

I love the pallow rice at The Helmand. At the same time, I’ve been on sort of a quinoa kick lately. I liked quinoa even before it became a trendy “superfood” – yes, it’s a complete protein (with all nine essential amino acids), full of fiber, rich in magnesium and manganese (an antioxidant), among other things. But it’s also deliciously crunchy, has a nice nutty flavour, and combines well with many different ingredients to make creative alternatives to rice dishes. I used some of the spices that The Helmand uses in its pallow rice – cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to make this quinoa. I also added raisins that plump up when steamed  to add some sweetness to the pilaf (inspired by Moroccan couscous).

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I make quinoa in my rice cooker because it’s easy – no need to supervise or stir the quinoa as it cooks. My boyfriend teases me because I don’t know how to cook rice on a stovetop… and I guess I don’t know how to cook quinoa on a stovetop either. But I’m Asian. No Asian cooks rice on a stovetop – that’s why we invented rice cookers! It guarantees perfectly steamed food and no kitchen fires. If you don’t own a rice cooker, I suggest that you buy one. You can get a basic, 4-cup model for around $10. It’s great for making rice, steamed vegetables, and now, quinoa pilaf too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp + 1 dash cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 dash (⅛ tsp) ginger powder
  • 1 dash (⅛ tsp) nutmeg
  • ½ cup raisins

This recipe calls for 1 cup of raw quinoa. This is about the maximum amount of quinoa that you can cook comfortably in a 4-cup rice cooker.

Using a colander with a fine mesh, rinse the raw quinoa well under cold running water until the water runs clear and isn’t frothy. This carries away the saponin in the quinoa, to ensure that your quinoa won’t come out tasting bitter. Even if your box of quinoa claims that rinsing is not required, I would still do it anyway.

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon, pepper, cumin, ginger powder, and nutmeg.
  2. Put all ingredients except raisins in the rice cooker and stir.
  3. Start the rice cooker.
  4. When the quinoa has just finished cooking (about 25 minutes), add the raisins and toss together. Mix the pilaf well, as some of the spices may have settled to the bottom of the rice cooker.
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