Curry Quinoa was a dish I made up out of desperation because I’d forgotten I was bringing a dish to a friend’s party! It was a good challenge and exercise in ‘what’s the thought process?’ when creating a dish. Since I don’t follow or teach using recipes in the sense most folks use them, I want to show how easy it is to make up a dish with what you have! The more you make up dishes, the easier it becomes. It’s like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
The 4 things to focus on when creating your dish are taste, texture, color and presentation in that order.
3 cups quinoa (4 cups water)
big bunch of multi-colored mini sweet peppers, chopped
3 medium size yellow squash, sliced in quarters
1/2 onion chopped
3 scallions chopped
big bunch of cilantro chopped
3 garlic gloves, diced
dash of tamari
dash of sherry
curry powder to cover quinoa and veggies completely
tablespoon of organic ghee
oil for stir frying (canola, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil)
I use a lightweight, thin walled cast iron wok and portable butane gas stove setup because I have an electric stove! Please don’t use a nonstick wok because you cannot use it above medium heat!
You can substitute with any veggies you like instead of squash and peppers but make sure you have some bright colors to make your dish POP!
1. While quinoa is cooking, chop all the veggies on a big chopping board and leave there.
2. Fry veggies in batches so you don’t overload your wok and they become soggy.
3. My stir fry process guarantees success everytime…
– heat wok till you see first wisp of smoke
– add 3 swirls of oil around wok
– add garlic and added squash, plate it
– do same process for mini sweet peppers and onions
4. Quinoa should be cooked by this time, fluff it up, add ghee and keep fluffing!
– add quinoa and all veggies back into wok and combine well
– sprinkle enough curry powder to completely cover quinoa and veggies and combine well
– last, sprinkle scallions and cilantro and combine, give it a taste and see if you need to adjust flavors like a bit more tamari or curry powder
5. Transfer to serving bowl, admire, take photos and enjoy!
No. 1 – taste
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with ghee, a clarified butter Indians like to use when making curries etc. I added a tablespoon to the dish which gave it a very creamy texture and so tasty. So now number 1 & 2 are in place.
No. 2 – texture
Initially, I thought I’d just bring a big platter of stir fried veggies but on their own, they looked very wimpy. I found quinoa which bulked up the dish and made it more substantial plus gave it texture, there’s no.2.
No.3 – color
I found yellow squash and a big bag of multi-colored mini sweet peppers in the fridge and started panicking thinking, well, that’s not very interesting. Yes, colors are bright and lovely but it’s not enough. However, after stir frying them in my wok with just a dash of tamari and sherry and added in quinoa, the dish started coming together. I must say, a wok is a great pan to mix up large quantities of food (but please don’t stir fry large quantities in one batch because it lowers the heat of the wok and results in soggy veggies!)
It’s a good idea to have scallions and cilantro around because they add a whole new dimension to a dish. They give a nice finish and pop of freshness, color and flavor! I didn’t stir fry them, just added right at the end, so the heat from the dish gently cooks them and stayed bright green. No. 1 and 3 at work.
It still needed something else because I didn’t have many red sweet peppers so the dish looked a little beige. I spied curry powder, now we’re talking! Curry has tumeric in it and what a difference it made. I just sprinkled enough to give the quinoa and veggies color and Curry Quinoa was born. I didn’t make it spicy though because I didn’t want folks who couldn’t eat spicy not be able to try my dish. Whenever I make a quinoa dish for pot luck, all the guys tell me they‘ve never had quinoa and wouldn’t have liked it if it was ‘healthy’, ha, ha, well, not only did they like it, they finished it.
No. 4 – presentation
My foodie chef friend, Kyra gifted me this beautiful intricate patterned steel Thai rice bowl with serving spoon years ago. Anything you put in this serving bowl makes a wonderful presentation. It’s so unique and stands out, doesn’t take up much space and so elegant. If you’re going to make a contribution to a pot luck, make it memorable!
The dish was a big hit and when I wanted to take the bowl home, Michelle wanted me to leave her the last bit! I was so tickled she liked it.
To all the Wok Stars out there, just keep practicing and you’ll be rewarded with loads of compliments. I’d love to hear your ‘thought process’ when you put a dish together!