Quinoa Pilaf with Mustard Seeds
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced carrot
1 teaspoon minced green chili
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems
2 cups chicken broth
cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Toast the quinoa by warming it in a dry pan over moderate heat for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan to ensure that all the grains make contact with the bottom. (The quinoa should turn just a shade darker.) Remove the quinoa from the pan and set it aside.
2. Warm the vegetable oil over moderately high heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the mustard seeds. (As they get hot, they will begin to splutter.) Reduce the heat to moderate, and add the onion and carrot. Cook until the onion turns golden. Add the green chili, cumin, and cilantro stems, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the toasted quinoa and stir well to make sure each grain glistens with a trace of oil.
3. Add the chicken broth. (It will sizzle for a second or two.) Increase the heat to high. When the mixture begins to boil around the edge, stir it well, cover the pan, reduce the heat as low as possible, and cook the quinoa for 17 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.
This recipe applies Madras style to the ancient Andean grain. The pilaf pairs well with meats or fish cooked with Indian or Middle Eastern spices; it might be best to avoid serving it with dishes that feature Mediterranean herbs. Serves 6 as a side dish