Thursday, 14 April 2011

Spiced Indian-Style Quinoa - Delicious!

My Fella at the helm and smiles all round

Our first sail of the season! I apologise for not writing about it last night. Although we only put up the Main, the Jib and Staysail, I was pooped at the end of the day. (But then have you seen the size of our Mainsail?) We normally train for racing with a full crew, around 23 people, but yesterday we were a mere 11. So crew numbers down, combined with a day of glorious Cannes sunshine, a divine sea breeze, and I’m just about here with you tonight. Match sticks are holding up the eye lids.
There's Natty, trimming the Jib

I began my day by making the sandwiches. But there is plenty of time to bore you with that over the season and I’d rather not talk about it just yet! So I’ll just say that we put some sails up, remembered how it all worked from last year and the rigging was great and nothing fell down and apparently the egg mayonnaise was delicious. A great day out on the water.

Lunch today was fun. We had an early smoko (coffee break to most people; smoko to yachties), so I had 2 hours to make lunch. Whoa.

Now trying to make a hearty vegetarian lunch for a 99 % meat eating crew without that 99% really noticing there’s no meat is a good cooking challenge. It’s not just because I have a vegetarian on board (Nat Lemieux is in de house) but has a lot to do with the budget and their health. Bless ‘em.  I do feel a bit like their mothers sometimes. I hope any Mother’s of said crew that may potentially be reading this blog, feel that their little cherubs are being well tended to…?

Indian style is my vegetarian flavour of choice. And for lunch today I broke out the Saag Aloo and Spicy Quinoa with Cauliflower. Team that up with some natural yoghurt with mint and mango chutney and they were all definitely happy and very healthy vegetarians.

Lots of herbs and spices and lots of flavour and it really is all very easy to make and a great lunch or dinner. You could add chicken or lamb if you wanted but I bet if you served this up to your family or crew, they really wouldn’t mind/care/notice if it was meat free. 

So maybe the challenge is on, give it a go. Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients and methods for these dishes. It’s all just a lot of chucking in of spices and herbs, the making of them is sooooo easy. Honest.

For the Saag Aloo you will need;

1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, finely grated
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp paprika
Good grating of fresh nutmeg
2 tsp garam masala
1 large bag of fresh spinach or ½ bag of frozen spinach
3 medium, waxy potatoes, chopped into smallish chunks
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
Around ¾ pint of hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp ground almonds


  • Gently sauté the onion, garlic and ginger together in a large, heavy frying pan or wok. Add salt and a tsp sugar. Sautee till the onion is starting to colour, then add all the spices including the nutmeg and continue to sauté until the spices are all becoming quite fragrant. A few minutes.

  • Add the diced potato and stir to coat in all the spicy, oniony mixture on a medium heat. Then add a ladle-full of hot stock, stir, then cover the pan with a lid and leave so the potatoes slowly absorb the liquid. This could take 10 minutes or so, keep checking. Once the liquid has been almost absorbed, add more stock and continue like this until the potatoes become quite soft. This could take up to 30 minutes or more. But that’s pretty much the hard work over with. So whilst that’s going on you can be making the Quinoa dish.

  • When the potatoes are soft and you have used most of the stock (or not, depends on the spuds), then add the spinach and the diced tomato. I just tip the frozen spinach in straight out the bag if that’s what you’re using and the same with the fresh.

  • Add the ground almonds and if it looks too dry then you can add more stock or some fresh natural yoghurt to shimmy it all up a bit.

  • Season to taste. I could live on this. This and take-away, Peshwari Naan bread. Heaven.

Then for the spicy Quinoa with Cauliflower you will need;

2 medium onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1 finely chopped fresh red chilli or 3-4 small dried red chillis
1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh coriander stalks, the leaves picked off for later
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp turmeric (starting to notice a pattern?)
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 bag of Quinoa for up to 6 people, a whole bag for up to 12
1 small cauliflower broken into small florets
Good handful of fresh roughly chopped coriander
Good handful of fresh roughly chopped mint
About 200 ml hot vege stock


  • Boil up a pan of water and when it’s bubbling away, add your Cauliflower. Let it cook for about 4-5 minutes till still a bit firm-ish, then using a slotted spoon hoik it out and put in a bowl of cold water and some ice cubes or just make sure it cools down very quickly.

  • Bring the same pan of water back to the boil and cook the quinoa in this water. (notes on quinoa at the bottom, meanwhile stick with me its worth it)

  • Whilst this is all happening (you multi-tasker you), as with the Saag Aloo, sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a frying pan till starting to colour. Add all the spices and fry again till fragrant.

  • Then spoon in the Cauliflower and stir to cover in all the oniony, spicy mixture, letting it all sizzle a little.

  • Add the quinoa and a good splash of hot vege stock and stir well to combine.. Season to taste and add the chopped mint and coriander.

  • Serve with some hot naan breads and a big salad, yoghurt and mango chutney. YUMMY.

So Quinoa, if you haven’t used it is sort of a bit like little, round rice. It’s a super-food which means it’s incredibly good for you and has all the complete protein of meat without any of the saturated fats. In fact the fats it does have are the brain-healthy omega fats and top that with the fact that it’s full of fibre and it’s delicious and there’s your no-brainer right there, if you haven’t cooked it yet, here’s your excuse to start. Bung it in boiling water and boil it for around 10 minutes and hey-presto. Eat it cold as a salad or hot as an alternative to rice or pasta.

We're training again on Saturday and this time with feeling. Till then, happy cooking.

The mast base, where I spend alot of time when we're racing

Thats my staysail jigger, leading to my staysail sheet, leading to my staysail.

Sian coiling lines