Quinoa with Veggies Broth – Thai Style

Quinoa is a quick and flavorful way to get a whole lot of protein into your diet. If you take care to rinse it thoroughly and cook it well, it hardly takes 20 mins from start to finish (and fluffed!). Then, if you load it with a bunch of veggies, you are good-to-go with a healthy meal that is not boring. If you stay in SE Asia, you are naturally exposed to Thai cuisine and you get Thai ingredients easily. So, I decided to load the quinoa with veggies and flavour it with a Thai-style broth. I have been seeing bean sprouts extensively in the round markets in Singapore and I am glad I got to work with them in this recipe. The vegetables add the colour to the dish making it visually appealing. Trust me when I say this – if you try this recipe, you are going to love it! 🙂

Recipe Details :
Serves: 2 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tsp galangal
  • 30 strands of beansprouts
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in long strips
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut in long pieces
  • 1 medium sized broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 green / red chilli, finely chopped
  • 8 french beans, cut into long pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp oil

Quinoa with veggies broth

Quinoa with veggies broth – Thai style


Method:

  • Rinse the quinoa at least for 4-5 times and then cook nicely till they fluff up – this should approximately take 20 mins.
  • In a mixer, add the kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chillis and blend it till fine.
  • In a pan, take 1 tsp oil and add the finely chopped onion. Saute it till light golden brown.
  • Now add the blended galangal, chilli, and lime leaves to the onions and mix well. Saute this for around 4 mins.
  • After this, add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, soy sauce and salt and mix well. Let come to a low boil and then simmer on low flame. Switch off after 7-10 mins.
  • Simultaneously take a separate pan, add 1 tsp of oil and saute / stir fry the cut veggies. Use only half of the bean sprouts at this stage. This should take around 7-8 mins.
  • Veggies saute

    Veggies saute

  • Now the important thing is to assemble the broth bowls. Layer the quinoa at the bottom and place the stir-fried veggies on the top.
  • Layering of quinoa with veggies

    Layering of quinoa with veggies

  • Finally add in the broth so that all the veggies soak in the aromatic Thai flavours. And then top it off with the remaining beansprouts as garnish. Eat this dish when it is hot.

Tips:

  • Use a little water while grinding the galangal, chilli, and lime leaves
  • You may need to strain the galangal, chilli, and lime leaves paste if the galangal is old and fibrous.
  • Do not overcook the veggies. They need to have some crunch.
  • Reduce the salt added if you are planning to use soy sauce.
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AEIOU Cafe – King George’s Avenue

An eclectic cafe that is housed in an old shop house is indeed a rare sight. We took some time to find the place as it is housed under the board ‘Oriental Antique House’. That being said, one just cannot miss the lights in the evening which hang on the entrance of this cafe. Situated in King George’s Avenue is the vibrant AEIOU cafe whose vowel-dominant name symbolizes all about going back to basics. The interior of the cafe is filled with quirky art and unique decor that is quite eye-catching.

aeiou fun decor

aeiou fun decor


The theme of the cafe focuses on simple living and hence there was a corner consisting of upcycled stuff and mugs for sale. The wall is adorned with paintings made by local artists.
aeiou quirky corner

aeiou quirky corner

The Orders
For starters, we ordered the ‘Sticks for Comfort’ which was a plate consisting of root vegetable fries. It was a colorful plate filled with yam, purple yam, sweet potato and potato along with a salsa dip. Some of these vegetables were intriguing in the form of fries and were quite soft and tasty.

Sticks for comfort

Sticks for comfort at $7.90


For the mains, I decided to go the nutritious way by going for ‘Pum King and Queen of Grains’ which had pumpkin and quinoa as the star ingredients. The pumpkin was well glazed and roasted along with pickled cucumbers and baby radishes. The quinoa had a nice balance of sweet with some raisins and almond flakes. Visually, it was quite appealing and taste-wise, it was quite filling.
Pum King and Queen of Grains

Pum King and Queen of Grains at $14.90


Next we ordered the ‘Bravo Ravo’ which was their ravioli pasta offering. The ricotta lemon cream was too tangy and the dish was just not balanced on the whole with the tomato sauce lacking salt. This dish turned out to be disappointing.
Bravo Ravo

Bravo Ravo at $17.9


To top off our meal, we felt like having a drink and ordered the ‘Hot Chocolate with a dash of Cinnamon’. This was quite refreshing and good and it was a pretty sight to see the sprinkle of cinnamon across the flat white surface.
Hot chocolate cinnamon

Hot chocolate cinnamon at $6.50


It was impressive to see quite a few vegetarian options on the menu of a quirky and vintage cafe. For their interesting decor, for their simple menu, for their friendly service and a different feel, Aeiou cafe is worth a visit if you are in the area.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Western ★★★
Nearest MRT: Lavender
Address: 111 King George’s Avenue. Singapore 208559
Timings: Tue-Thu: 11am – 10pm ; Fri-Sat: 11am – 11pm ; Sun: 10am – 9pm
Website: http://www.facebook.com/aeioulife

Quinoa and Veggie Wrap

A versatile and multipurpose dish is a winner in my books! Today’s recipe is a great salad and an amazing filling for wraps. It’s colourful and filled with healthy ingredients and takes any meal to another level. I had been planning to try Mexican style filling for wraps and burritos, and I am glad that I finally ended up making this delicious one-pot meal/filling. This filling can be eaten just by itself for breakfast or brunch. Quinoa and black beans are an awesome combination to make a scrumptious Mexican style meal. When you add veggies to these nutrient-rich foods along with avocado, you get a healthy wrap filling that you just can’t forget 🙂

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight. Else use canned ones.
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped coriander
  • 1/2 a lemon just to squeeze at the end

Quinoa and veggie wrap

Quinoa and veggie wrap


Method:

  • Rinse the quinoa at least 3 times in tap water. Drain the water.
  • Cook the rinsed quinoa in the vegetable broth on low flame. Add some salt. It will take around 15 mins for the quinoa to absorb all the broth. Once the liquid is absorbed (around 15 minutes), turn off the flame. Leave the quinoa covered for 15 minutes. Then fluff it gently with a fork.
  • In a pot, saute the onion and red bell pepper in olive oil till they turn slightly brown. Add salt, pepper and cumin powder to the veggies when they are cooking on the flame. Then add the garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Add frozen corn and black beans. Lower the flame and continue cooking till they are nicely done. Turn off the flame.
  • Now add the fluffed quinoa to the pot and mix it gently with the veggies.
  • At the end, garnish the one-pot filling with avocado and coriander and mix well. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top. Fill this into a wrap and take a bite and you will love the flavours!
  • Quinoa and veggie filling

    Quinoa and veggie filling


Tips:

  • If using canned beans, add them in after the corn has some time to cook.
  • You can also cook the soaked beans separately (on the gas or the pressure cooker).
  • Do not mash the avocado into the filling. Be gentle.

Quinoa with Chickpeas and Black Bean Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette in Potato Basket/ Quinoa with with Chickpeas and Black Bean Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette in Aloo Katori

I’ve been reading up on healthy foods and came to hear a lot of good things about quinoa. It is being touted as a healthy grain as it is a rich source of protein and fiber. When cooked, it fluffs up nicely and almost resembles couscous or sabudana (tapioca). What I like about cooking is the ability to experiment with new ingredients and since I had never cooked with quinoa before, I decided to try a salad. I also wanted to understand the quinoa behaviour while cooking. I read that the cooking process is similar to the one used for rice. However, I found that it is better to be conservative on the quinoa to water ratio. The brand of quinoa I suggested a ratio of 1:2 (quinoa:water). When I tried it, the quinoa was too soggy for my taste. Ultimately, I ended up using 1:1 ratio of quinoa to water. Wash the quinoa thoroughly (3 – 4 washes) before cooking as it has a bitter outer coating. This recipe has quite a few ingredients – each adding their own taste and texture. I had made it as a picnic starter and it turned out to be delicious. This recipe has 3 main components: The quinoa salad, the lemon-cumin vinaigrette and the potato basket. This dish can be made just as a salad and served with a dash of lemon, the vinaigrette is multipurpose and can be used with other salads, and last but not least, the potato baskets can be stuffed with a filling of your choice. In short this is my triple bonanza post, three recipes in one dish! Needless to say, experimenting with these combinations to create a dish was a deelightful experience 🙂

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • For salad

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (please see tips section of this post)
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

  • For vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • fine zest of half a lemon(optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • For potato basket/aloo katori

  • 1 medium potato, shredded on the largest side of a box grater
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • Salt as per taste

Quinoa with beans salad

Quinoa with beans salad


Method for salad and vinaigrette:

  • Wash the quinoa thoroughly and place it in a pan with a 1:1 ratio of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, put on a lid and turn the heat to low. Cook till all the water is absorbed. Take it off the heat and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Fluff well with a fork.
  • Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Prepare the vinaigrette only after the quinoa is cooked.
  • Now combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Add half the quantity of the prepared vinaigrette into the salad bowl and mix well. Let the salad rest for about 20 mins at room temperature before serving.
  • The salad can be refrigerated overnight and the extra vinaigrette can be used at the time of serving the next day. The vinaigrette is essential as it adds a great acidity to the salad. If you do not have the ingredients for the vinaigrette, then just squeeze some lemon juice on top to balance the salad flavours.

Potato baskets

Potato baskets


Method for potato basket/aloo katori

  • Wash and peel the potatoes. Grate them on the largest openings on a box grater.
  • Squeeze the grated potato to remove excess moisture. The more water you can remove now, the better.
  • Now combine the remaining ingredients with the potatoes in a bowl. Do this quickly as the potato will start to oxidize.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tray. Scoop some of the mixture into each section of the tray.
  • Working outwards from the center, press down to create a flat base and then push the mixture up the sides of the wall to create a bowl shape.
  • Bake in an oven at 180 Celsius for 20 minutes. At that stage check if the baskets are golden brown. If not, continue baking, checking every 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Remove the baskets from the muffin tray. You can serve them immediately.

Tips :

  • For those staying in Singapore, I used the Origins Health food Organic Quinoa pack and I did not cook according to the instructions on the pack as it made the quinoa too mushy for my liking.
  • For an interesting perspective on cooking quinoa and reading instructions about the same, give this a read http://foodbod.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/dont-cook-quinoa-as-it-says-on-the-pack/
  • I used canned versions of the chickpeas and black beans. You can soak them overnight in the usual manner and make them too.
  • If you refrigerate the potato baskets, then warm them slightly in an oven so that they get a bit crisp before serving the next day.