Recipe for simple, colourful and nourishing Quinoa pilaf loaded with vegetables, almonds and Indian seasonings
3 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil or ghee
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 medium potato, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 to 2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small eggplant, cut into cubes
2 cups water
1/4 cup ground almonds or almond meal
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 small carrot, scrubbed and diced
handful of green beans (about 1/3 cup), trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and defrosted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil or ghee in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the almonds and fry, stirring often, until the almonds are browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of the oil or ghee, turn up the heat to medium-high, and add the potatoes. Cook, stirring often, until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce the heat slightly, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil or ghee, and toss in the cumin seeds. Stir until they darken a few shades. Add the chilies and stir for another minute. Stir in the quinoa, red pepper and eggplant, and fry for another few minutes, again stirring often.
Now pour in the water, ground almonds, turmeric, garam masala and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the carrots and green beans and fresh peas if using. Reduce the heat to very low and cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. If using frozen peas, quickly add them to the pot about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
When all of the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered and undisturbed. Add the almonds and potatoes and gently toss the mixture together with a fork. If desired, toss in a pat of butter.
Serve hot garnished with fresh chopped parsley