Quinoa, the Wonder Grain now Available in Chennai
Quinoa pronounced keen-wah is now available in Chennai and is a popular grain across US and recommended by weight watchers and healthy eating sites. It is touted as a replacement for white rice and brown rice and is protein rich food.
What is Quinoa and where does it come from?
Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. The mature plants stand 1 to 2 meters high and produce striking colors such as red, purple, yellow and black heads of seeds which turn brown on reaching maturity . The grain can be used as flour, or toasted, added to soups or made into bread.
Dried it can be stored for up to ten years. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal as it is not a grass. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as ‘chisaya mama’ or ‘mother of all grains’, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using ‘golden implements’. Thanks to its precious nutritional properties, quinoa helped sustain the Inca army on its long march through the Andes.
Quinoa is an easy food to prepare, has a pleasantly light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an excellent alternative to white rice or couscous. It is highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete foodstuff. Quinoa is higher than wheat, corn or white rice in iron, phosphorus, and calcium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. Its seed can also be used to make a high protein drink.
A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice. Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Basically cooking quinoa is like cooking rice. Add one part of quinoa to two parts of boiling water, lower the flame and ensure that the grain does not stick to the bottom of the cooking vessel. When the grain is almost cooked, a white tail detaches from the grain, looking much like a green gram sprout. Quinoa can be cooked in a pressure cooker or a rice cooker.
Quinoa seed can produce a healthy, nutritious and tasteful drink. The seed is rich in protein and contains a better aminoacid balance than the protein in most cereals and is considered even better than cow’s milk. It may prove a better protein source than most of the true cereals. It is high in the essential aminoacids lysine, methionine and cystine, making it complementary both to other grains and to legumes such as beans.