Quinoa pulao or pilaf is a vegan and gluten-free Indian dish full of flavors and nutrition. This curried quinoa can be enjoyed as a filling breakfast or served in lunch and dinner too.
Though I added quinoa to my diet around seven years back, it is now one of the most frequently used ingredients in my kitchen.
I generally use it in my salads and I have already shared a handful of quinoa salad recipes on my blog. However, today I am sharing an Indian-style quinoa recipe. It's a quick, easy to make, wholesome, and delicious dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day- Indian-style quinoa pulao.
If you like Indian flavors and want to enjoy a delicious Indian-style quinoa dish then you must try this easy quinoa pulao recipe.
- What is pulao?
- Are pulao and pilaf the same?
- What is quinoa?
- What goes in vegetable quinoa pulao?
- How to cook quinoa?
- What's better- quinoa or rice?
- How to make Indian quinoa pulao/ pilaf?
- Step by step photo instructions
- Serving suggestions
- Recipe tips and tricks
- Storing suggestions
- Can you freeze quinoa pilaf?
- Frequently asked questions
- More easy vegan quinoa recipes
What is pulao?
Pulao is a rice dish that is mainly eaten in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. It is made by cooking rice with meat or vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and spices.
Are pulao and pilaf the same?
Yes, pulao and pilaf are the same. Pulao is also called pilaf or pilau in some regions.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant- a native to the Andean region of South America.
What goes in vegetable quinoa pulao?
To make vegetable quinoa pulao, you will need the following ingredients:
- Quinoa: Any variety of quinoa can be used to make curried quinoa pulao.
- Vegetables: Use different vegetables of your choice. Generally cauliflower, carrot, beans, and green peas are used in pulao. However, you can also add broccoli, mushrooms, corn kernels, etc. Fresh and frozen vegetables both are fine to be used.
- Onion, preferably red.
- Green chili pepper/ jalapeno
- Fresh cilantro: Fresh mint leaves also taste great in pulao.
- Nuts and dried fruits: I have used golden raisins and cashew nuts but black raisins, chopped dried apricots, cranberries, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios can be used too.
- Whole spices: Cumin seeds, black cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, green cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon. You may add or skip a few whole spices depending on the availability.
- Powdered spices/ seasoning: Salt, ground black pepper, red chili powder, garam masala, and coriander powder.
How to cook quinoa?
Cooking quinoa is very easy but if you are making it for the first time, keep the following points in mind:
- Generally, the quinoa available in the market these days is pre-rinsed which will be mentioned on the package too. However, if it's not, don't miss to rinse quinoa before cooking. It helps in getting rid of the outer skin of quinoa which doesn't taste good.
- Use 1:2 ratio of quinoa and water/ stock i.e. if you are using 1 cup of quinoa use 2 cups of water or stock to cook it.
- 1 cup of raw quinoa yields 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
- Don't cover the pan while cooking quinoa. Cook it uncovered for around 15-20 minutes or until the liquid dries up completely then switch off the stove. Cover the pot with a lid and let it stay like that for atleast 5 minutes. After 5 minutes fluff with a fork.
What's better- quinoa or rice?
Quinoa has a lower glycemic index and higher nutritional benefits than white rice so it's considered a healthy alternative for rice.
Quinoa also has low calories and carbs than rice so if you are on a low carb diet, replacing white rice with quinoa is a good idea.
How to make Indian quinoa pulao/ pilaf?
Making this Indian style vegetable quinoa pulao is very easy, just follow the steps below:
- Cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa and put in a pan with water or vegetable stock. Follow the steps given above to cook it.
- Saute nuts and dried fruits: Heat oil in a pan and saute nuts and dried fruits for a few seconds. Take them out in a bowl and keep aside.
- Cook vegetables: In the same pan, add the whole spices. Saute until they become fragrant. Add onion, garlic, and green chilies. Cook until the onion starts turning brown. Add chopped vegetables, mix and cover the pan. Once the vegetables are cooked add all the seasonings. Cook the vegetables with seasonings for about a minute.
- Add quinoa and nuts: Finally, add cooked quinoa, fried nuts, dried fruits, and chopped cilantro. Mix everything and cook for another minute. Enjoy!
Step by step photo instructions
This Indian-style curried quinoa can be served in breakfast, lunch, as well as dinner. It's very filling so just a simple side dish like chutney(mint chutney, tomato chutney, green mango chutney) or raita (onion raita, potato raita, pahadi cucumber raita) is sufficient with it.
You can fill it in your wraps or add it to your buddha bowl too.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Don't overcook quinoa. It should be fluffy not mushy.
- Cut small, equal size pieces of vegetables, it will help in fast and even cooking.
- The spices get burned very fast so make sure that the oil is not very hot when you add the spices or switch off the stove before adding them.
- Add the powdered spices only after the vegetables are cooked otherwise they will start sticking to the bottom of the pan and it will be difficult to cook the vegetables without adding water.
- To make quinoa pilaf more flavorful use vegetable or mushroom stock to cook quinoa.
- You can also add a few strands of saffron and a few drops of rose water or kewra water for a more traditional flavor.
To store curried quinoa pulao, put it in an air-tight container and keep in the fridge. It will be fine for 3 days.
Can you freeze quinoa pilaf?
Yes, quinoa pilaf freezes well. To freeze, allow it to reach room temperature and then put it in freezer-safe containers. It will be fine in the freezer for around 3 months.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, quinoa is gluten-free.
No, quinoa gets cooked very fast and doesn't need soaking before cooking
If you add raw quinoa after sauteeing the vegetables and then add water to cook it with vegetables, quinoa may turn mushy and the vegetables will also not remain crunchy.
Adding cooked quinoa after sauteeing vegetables will give you fluffy quinoa and crunchy vegetables in quinoa pulao.
Yes, quinoa can be consumed by diabetics and is a good substitute for rice.
No, quinoa and couscous are not the same. Quinoa is a seed whereas couscous is made from coarsely ground durum wheat (semolina).
More easy vegan quinoa recipes
If you like quinoa and want to try more easy vegan quinoa recipes then don't miss to check the following recipes:
- Healthy quinoa with vegetables
- Quinoa fruit salad
- Mexican quinoa salad
- Vegan quinoa salad
- Lentil quinoa soup
- Quinoa beet salad
- Curried quinoa with vegetables
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Vegetable quinoa pulao
- Cooking pot
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water/ vegetable stock
- 2 cups chopped vegetables cauliflower, French beans, carrot, green peas
- 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 green chili pepper finely chopped
- ½ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon golden raisins
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 black cardamom
- 2 green cardamoms
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 4 black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper adjust to taste
- Salt as per taste
- 1 tablespoon any neutral-flavored oil
- Rinse quinoa and put it in a pot. Add water/ stock and cook uncovered for around 15-20 minutes or until all the water dries up. Switch off the stove and cover the pan. Let it stay untouched for at least 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff quinoa with a fork.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add cashew nuts. Saute for a few seconds and then add raisins. Saute until the cashew nuts start turning brown. Take out the cashews and raisins on a plate.
- In the same pan add all the whole spices and saute for about 30 seconds or until the spices become fragrant.
- Add onion, garlic, and green chilies. Cook until the onion starts turning brown.
- Add chopped vegetables, mix everything and cover the pan. Cook covered for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables get cooked. Stir in between to make sure the vegetables don't get burned.
- Once the vegetables are cooked add salt, pepper, coriander powder, garam masala, and red chili powder. Saute for about a minute.
- Add quinoa, fried cashew nuts, raisins, and cilantro. Mix everything and cook for another minute.
- Serve hot with a salad, raita, or curry.
- Add any vegetable, nut, and dried fruit of your choice to make quinoa pulao.
- Don't overcook the quinoa otherwise, it will turn mushy and spoil the pulao. The quinoa should be fluffy and perfectly cooked. Follow the quinoa cooking tips given in the post above to get the perfect texture.
- You can also use vegetable/ mushroom stock to cook quinoa.