Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Inspired quinoa

Here's a confession. I hate being an editor. I don't hate editing as such, but the idea of spending most of my waking hours fixing commas and the like is extremely uninspiring. In the bigger scheme of things, does it matter? Would a life be lost if you spot a typo in a published book? Unlikely. If truth be said, what I really want to do - rather one of the many things I want to do - is this: I want to be a farmer. I want to live on a farm, grow stuff on a piece of land, hopefully sell it and make enough money to do a whole lot of other exciting stuff. There. I said it. That's the dream. I often wonder, do people really like living in the city? The hustle bustle of everyday life. The madness. The lack of time. The cut-throat competition. The commuting! Oh, the commuting! The traffic snarls and blaring horns! 

When I visited Manipur last year, Len and I visited a small town called Kangpokpi, about an hour's drive from Imphal. We met up with a couple of his friends, enjoyed some wonderful hospitality, and soaked in the charming vibe of the town. And in the five-odd hours that I spent in Kangpokpi, I knew I had found my second home. 


Kangpokpi reminded me of scenes from Enid Blyton books. Picturesque and quiet, with narrow winding roads between lush green forest land, gurgling streams by the road, a little cemetery at the top of the hill, a church nearby...

This place was a wee bit spooky, yet peaceful

 So I thought to myself. Wouldn't it just be lovely to have a house in the hills, a quinoa farm - yes that stuff is picking up in Manipur, would you believe it! - a few cows, hens, and of course a dog for company. Speaking of quinoa, I tried my hand at it over the weekend. A Chinese-style one-pot quinoa meal. Len and I both enjoyed it, and we polished off an large bowl talking about the farm we would own one day. 

Interestingly, the climatic conditions in parts of Manipur are conducive to growing quinoa and chia seeds - both native to Latin America - and are being promoted by the state government as potential cash crops in Manipur. Ever since we found out, Len and I have increased in our intake of both chia and quinoa, in the hope that it would inspire us to get off our lazy butts and get that farm in Kangpokpi!

This Chinese-fried quinoa recipe makes enough for two persons. 

What you need

3/4 cup dried quinoa
2 cups water (or, vegetable or meat stock - alternately you can flavour plain water by using something like a bouillon cube)

2 carrots, chopped
1 large capsicum, diced
1/2 cup corn
2 eggs
1 onion, finely chopped
6-7 garlic pods, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (or, use a hot sauce of your choice)
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil 
1/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped (I missed out on this, but it makes for a great garnish)
Salt, to taste

How to

Start by cooking the quinoa, and prep your veggies on the side. You need to cook quinoa in a covered pot, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is nice and fluffy. The quinoa soaks up the all liquid when it is cooked. 

More the colour, better it is

In a separate pan, heat oil, and add the chopped onion, garlic, and chillies. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

Get your pan nice and hot

When the onions turn transluscent. Add the carrots and let them cook for 4-5 minutes. Then, add the remaining vegetables. Stir fry until the carrots are almost cooked. This should take another 5 minutes.

Stir fry those veggies

Move the vegetables to one side. Crack open the eggs. Once they begin to set, gently scramble them. Season with salt before adding the cooked quinoa.

Scramble that egg

Add the soy sauce, and cook for a few more minutes, or until everything is well incorporated. Garnish with some spring onions. You could also serve this dish with some extra sesame oil and soy sauce on the side.

Dig in!

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