The first time I encountered the word ‘quinoa’ was in a book about weaning babies. The quinoa seeds, which were the staple of South America’s *Incas for millenia, are now treated like a grain or cereal and are sought for their high nutritional content – clearly why it was included in that babyfood book.

Many a time have I walked into a healthfood store with the specific aim of enquiring about quinoa, the processed version of which looks like irregular white sesame seeds or grains of broken rice, but have chickened out for not knowing how to pronounce the thing!

That was some years ago, but now I can say proudly it is the keen-WAH seed which is chockful of proteins (about 17-20 percent) and 4 percent fibre, not forgetting 50 percent iron and magnesium, 40 percent potassium and 6 percent calcium.

During Passover, quinoa is an excellent substitute for the five grains that one avoids during the week – wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt – and rice or couscous recipes are easily transposed to quinoa, which is what I’ve done with this salad. Cooked, the seeds look like the prettiest bits of tiny pasta with a light, curly edge 😀

*the Incas, who once had the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, likely had quinoa to thank for their mightiness. Eventually, their numbers shrank not due to malnutrition, but invading Spanish conquistadors and smallpox.

Quinoa and Lime Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, boil in 3 cups of water for 15-20 minutes and drain
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (spring onion is good)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (lemon will do too)
  • coriander or cilantro leaves, handful of, chopped
  • handful of baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • salt and pepper as required

  1. Saute chilli, garlic and onions in some canola oil till translucent and fragrant
  2. Add red pepper, cook for 2-3 minutes
  3. Take off the heat and dump onto quinoa
  4. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, mango, lime juice
  5. Grind pepper on top, add 1/2 tsp salt
  6. Fork the mixture through gently till flavours are incorporated
  7. Chill till ready to use