Cook's Hideout: Quinoa Upma

June 09, 2011

Quinoa Upma

Quinoa is such a versatile grain, just like rice, but nutritionally way better than rice. I love the way quinoa swells up with the distinct white ring and the kernel turning transparent – it’s just beautiful. I also like the slightly nutty bite and taste that the cooked grains have. I use quinoa pretty much like rice and make pilafs or even pulihora with it.

Quinoa Upma1

When I saw this recipe for Quinoa upma in India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant, I wanted to try it right away. I don’t know if it happens to you too but sometimes when I see a recipe I can just feel it is going to be yummy and sometimes I know right away that a recipe will not work just by reading. But there are sometimes when I think it is going to turn out awesome, the end result just lets your intuition down. Well I’m happy to report that this recipe definitely falls in the first category and the end result was truly delicious.

Ingredients (makes just about 2 servings**):
Quinoa – 2/3 cup
Dry Red chili - 1
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Curry leaves - 20
Onion - 1 large, finely chopped
Green chili - 1, slit vertically
Ginger - ½" piece, finely grated
Tomato - 1, coarsely chopped
Red chili powder - ¼tsp (or to taste)
Cilantro - 1tbsp, finely chopped
Sugar - ½tsp
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 1tbsp

  • Soak quinoa for 15 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Add quinoa and 1¼ cups of water to a heavy-bottom pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for about 18-20 minutes or until the grains are cooked and the characteristic white ring around the kernel is formed.
  • Heat tbsp oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, add the dry red chili and mustard seeds and once the seeds start to splutter, add the curry leaves and fry till they are nice and crisp.
  • Add the onions and cook until they start to turn golden, about 6-8 minutes. Next add the green chili and ginger and stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped tomato, salt and red chili powder and cook until tomatoes turn mushy and the mixture starts to dry out.
  • Add the cooked quinoa and cook until heated through.
  • Finish with sugar, sprinkling of cilantro and lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot.
Quinoa Upma

** I say about 2 servings because this upma filled only 1½ lunch boxes for my husband and me and I ended up taking something else for lunch. So the recipe will probably make 2 servings if eating with other dishes, otherwise increase the proportions accordingly.


  1. Very new to me.. looks really tempting and perfect.. thanks for the recipe dear :)
    Indian Cuisine

  2. Fantastic and filling upma, a must try..

  3. Looks great! I am also a great fan of quinoa and use it left and right Indianising it in all possible ways.

  4. I love quinoa...what a great way to use it. I've been making mini patties from it using a recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I'll have to try this out too!

  5. I love quinoa AND anything Indian especially curry. I live in an rural area where we don't have access to things like curry leaves. Do you think curry powder would be ok in this recipe as a substitute?

  6. Thanks everyone.

    Hi Feathersnpaws, Curry leaves are used traditionally in Indian dishes, but the dish tastes perfectly fine without them. Curry powder is NOT a substitute for curry leaves.
    So I would proceed with the recipe AS IS without curry leaves. Do let me know if you tried it. Thank you for visiting my space.

  7. That is a delicious way of preparing quinoa.
    Your blog is lovely, I have just discovered it through the ICC!
    will be back soon :-)

  8. I made this today and it was sooooo good! Thank you so much!


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