Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quinoa - A Love Story

It was late evening and Sri, who had just come back from work, was washing the quinoa thoroughly. That involved quite a bit of dexterity, the way She would have it. It had been almost a year since she brought it back with her from her vacation abroad, and life had begun to take form, little black creepy-crawlies making their way among those pale brown grains. She had almost lost it when she saw him squeezing the quinoa well under water. "Sri!", she had screamed, "You're going to squish all the insects, just run water over it several times till they all float up and pour it away, then maybe you can wash it vigorously. Call yourself a most intelligent guy but I have to instruct you in the most common of sense!" she said, her face all twisted in irritation.

Sri opened his mouth to yell back but closed it as a tidal wave of dejection washed over him. Why why why had he said yes to this girl? What had possessed him? He should have read the warning signs. At what was supposed to be a romantic evening on the beach soon after they got engaged, she told him she couldn't and wouldn't cook breakfast and other meals as per convention. Well, it must have been romantic, because all caution and instincts of self-preservation deserted him and he leapt to the occasion and told her, "Why bother about all that, I can cook and I'm not particular about traditional breakfasts."

But she had tried, that one year that she couldn't work because of the shift - mango milkshake, just mango, something or the other ... and he had rejected a series of whatever she offered - cereal, upma, cornflakes ... And then she had begun working and life had been fine as they had had a cook for most part. Then they moved again and decided a cook was a luxury ...

But they had had fun, hadn't they? Even though there were times when she wasn't suitably appreciative ... "All you've done is dunk paneer and peas in a pack of tomato puree and heat it up," she would cry; at other times, he was "the most thoughtful spouse ever, thank God you aren't like my friends' husbands!" They had kneaded flour, experimented with yeast, made naans and sheermals, grilled paneer, fried breaded chicken, laid out five-course meals for friends and family. Where had all that gone?

They had gotten older and busier. More world-weary. And while food wasn't the last thing on their minds, and they had learnt a lot more about it, its preparation at the end of the day was a chore. It was past 9 p.m. Why couldn't they just go out to dinner? When would this quinoa boil, when would the entire salad be put together and when, finally, would they have dinner and would he be able to play Hearts on the computer?


Her voice interrupted his reverie and he hurriedly filled the bowl of quinoa with some more water to give it another rinse. "You're still at it, Sri? Just finish with it and spread it out in a plate to dry."

"What do you mean? This has to dry before we make the salad?"

"Well, of course!"

"So when will we have dinner?"

"Whenever you want!"

"What about the kinowa?"

"It's keenwah. Keen-wah. Get it? I told you that twice already."

"Alright, keenwah. What about the darn salad?"

"The darn salad is for the darn blog. It's for tomorrow. Finish up and come soon - I've brought fried chicken and chocolate mousse and ice-cream, they're waiting."

Healthy and hurry don't go together. She understands!

It was hard to tell which came first - the rush of joy at the mention of that unabashedly unwholesome menu or the sigh of relief that the salad could be put off! Or was it neither of these but a surge of love, coupled with the reassurance that he had chosen right, after all?

This piece of fiction goes to Bong Mom, who's hosting Of Chalks and Chopsticks, Aqua's idea.

The original recipe came from here.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups frozen shelled peas, thawed
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
Red peppers or de-seeded red chillies - I used pickled red chillies but washed them clean before I used them.
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Toast quinoa in a pan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to pop, about five minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly.

Boil the water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for eight minutes. Remove the lid and, without disturbing the quinoa, add the peas. Cook another 7-8 minutes, until the peas and quinoa are tender. Drain any remaining water.

Whisk lemon zest and juice, oil, coriander and salt in a large bowl. Add the chillies and the quinoa mixture. Toss to combine. Top with toasted sunflower seeds.

As it contains a substantial amount of legumes, I'm also sending it to My Legume Love Affair 23


  1. Whoa! I almost thought you were writing my life story :D About the husband cooking and the wife cribbing. About not having a job and so cooking for husband :)

    But, but - I'm not a mean cribber, so I shall let it be ;)

    Good stuff! I'm waiting for a round up now :)

  2. A beautiful write Sra! Enjoyed. :-)

  3. Hurray for Kinowa with bugs squished in it...well...almost!! ;D

    Consider "herself" lucky if husband cooks atleast some days or something for her! No such luck here, got to cook rain or shine, for myself and for my big kiddies or fast food it is for us which would surely delight us all, of course not forgetting the extra lbs around the girth that comes with that!!

    Loved reading this post.

  4. I think my coment got lost so here we go again, as i was saying loved reading this post and i am sure lot of us can relate to this post :-)
    You are a wonderful writer now did i read somewhere you are a journo.

  5. Sra, Nice! the story I mean. As for the quinoa I will pass.

  6. So I have to ask after reading that wonderful piece of "Love Story", how much was fiction and how much non-fiction? :)

  7. i guess only lucky women get husbands who cook and let the wife crib, here is the complete opposite...nice one

  8. Oh I simply loved reading this Sra.

    LOL @ kinowa!

  9. Well, when I got engaged, I told hubby I didn't know much cooking and he told me he wouldn't help in the kitchen...well, it would suffice to say we're pulling along! :) Enjoyed reading that fiction and I'm wondering if the quinoa+squished insects salad tasted healthy;)

  10. Nandini, thanks. I guess it's most everybody's life story nowadays.
    Sharmila, thanks.
    Asha, in real life, The Spouse cooks most of Sunday lunch - with stuff he wants, but I have no complaints. When I was on the late shift, he would have something hot for me at the end of the day. He leaves v early for work so I don't insist on his contribution. I don't even cook everyday.
    Happy, thanks, yeah, most of us are like this nowadays.
    Indo, yeah, I remember you saying you don't like it.
    Jaya, well, quite a bit. He didn't have anything to do with the quinoa, and I didn't ever combine fried chicken, mousse and ice cream - then most of the rest of it was imagination.
    Balaka, thanks!
    Aqua, that's how I used to think of it before I knew. I also used to read it as 'kino'.
    Jyothsna, it tasted good. No bugs. Gotta get along somehow and choose your fights, right?

  11. Sra,
    lovey dovey cute story :-)...
    its wife cooking here and husband enjoying food..he although makes good omlettes ,but thats what he knows only to cook :-)..
    hugs and smiles

  12. Lovely story Sra, a great read! This almost inspires me to try quinoa now :)

  13. "It was hard to tell which came first - the rush of joy at the mention of that unabashedly unwholesome menu or the sigh of relief that the salad could be put off! "

    Too funny :-D

  14. Great looking dish!!

  15. There finally you wrote it..and made for a lovely read ...

  16. Joys of putting off salad for fried chicken does sound good. The combo- thank god it is fiction!

  17. u r so good in writing,...lovely post

  18. I thought this post was so funny! I love all of the mispronunciation of the word quinoa...I've cooked it for my parents at least six times and they still pronounce it wrong. What a delicious dish!

  19. nice! why dont I have such an understanding husband?!

  20. Ah..what a beautiful piece of writing Sra, I told you na, you should write more of such stuff..but thanks to Aqua we get to read it anyway..:))

  21. My hubby can prepare a few recipes to perfection. Unfortunately, mashed potatoes isn't one of them, as we found out last week when I could only eat soft foods. I'm afraid I threw a real fit, most unbecoming. I spent the rest of the week contrite and consigned to hideous instant spud flakes.

    Good story, Sra - more truth than fiction.

    Thanks for the MLLA recipe. I've had a bag of quinoa around so long it must have beasties in it.

  22. Wow, thats a loveable story Sra! The last para I simply love it. You are a vivid writer...I could imagibe every shot of this story. And quinoa, how does it taste like ? And u eat fried chicken, choco mousse and talk about loosing weight! Ha ha!

  23. Jaya, well, as long as he's willing to make and learn, maybe it's time we taught him more ...
    Bhagyashri, thanks. It's quite nice in salads.
    Bong Mom, thanks. I aim to be "too funny".
    Apu, thanks!
    Rachel, thanks!
    Rajesh & Shankari, oh yes, it's fiction, otherwise our triglcyerides would have declared war on us!
    notyet100, Thank you!
    Joanne, The lime was a familiar flavour but the pickled-but-washed chilli really differentiated it.
    Rajani, you just have to force him to be understanding!
    Valli, I will, I will
    Susan, sounds like you were punished for bad behaviour, can't imagine potato flakes. And yes, use up that quinoa soon.
    Rajesh, thank you! And I notice you seem to really read my blog - but that's one combination I've not eaten all at once, it was truly fiction. :-D

  24. i am smiling ear to ear.. but i thot u didn't carbs.. chocolate mousse doesn't count?

  25. Sra, my comment has disappeared :( But can't stop commenting at this adorable love story! I love the conversations and the sigh of relief is a real punch at the end !

  26. Mallugirl, keep smiling. I don't do carbs, well, not much anyway, and this is fiction :-D
    RShan, thanks a lot.
    Rajesh, your comment is very much there, check!

  27. Healthy recipe. Looks so good. YUM!

  28. Ok, so there are no bugs in this salad. And was this the reward for the fried chicken, mousse and ice-cream? :)

    So is this really fiction? ;-)

  29. Sukanya, thanks!
    Aparna, The combination of the treat is fiction, and the rest is imagination! :-D

  30. Loved reading your story: you sure have a way with words!

  31. Sra.. that's a really cute story! :) Have never eaten keen-wah! :D


I moderate all my comments. So if you're a human spammer or a bot that can understand this warning, buzz off, don't waste your time here spamming.