Dadima’s spicy mung quinoa

This is a delicious, heartwarming, and healthy recipe which makes a perfect lunch or an evening meal. My recipe is a cross between quinoa, kichadi (or kitchari/khichdi!), and a subji, and I have my family to thank for that. My inspiration came from the kichadi which my grandmothers cook, and the spicy quinoa which my mum and sister so often make. Kichadi is a mixture of white basmati rice, lentils (typically mung beans), and spices. It is known as the Ayurvedic food which is kind to digestion, healing for the body, cleansing and balancing for the three doshas.

Quinoa is known as a supergrain and makes a delicious alternative to rice. When my sister and I lived away from home at university, mum would batch-cook quinoa for us, as it’s a source of protein and fibre. The taste of quinoa really grew on us, so in my family, we tend to eat a lot more quinoa than we do rice. It’s a perfect pairing for mung daal as not only does it absorb the taste really well, but it also lends itself to that creamy kichadi texture. It’s also light to eat (I never feel sluggish after eating this). My nanima (nan) is not a huge fan of rice, so she also approves of this mung and quinoa and takes it with her to work!

I can’t quite bring myself to call this dish kichadi, as I’ve sort of broken the kichadi rules by doing a full tharka with onions and in using quinoa. You’ll get the same ‘hug in a bowl’ feel from this dish, just healthier and packed with flavour. I’ve used a moderate amount of chillies and kept the salt low, but feel free to adjust to your personal taste.


Love Anni (Dadima's) 

 spicy mung quinoa
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

120g white quinoa
100g yellow mung daal
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
Around 600ml cold water
1 star anise
Optional: 100g of frozen mixed vegetables or peas

For the tharka: 

1/2 tbsp grass-fed ghee
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of grated ginger
1 green finger chilli, finely chopped (or to personal taste)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ambchoor (mango powder)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp of tomato passata
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Tweaks: If you want to bulk out this dish, and introduce some vibrancy, add some frozen mixed vegetables or peas about 10 minutes into boiling the quinoa and daal. Keep the vegetables small so that they don’t crush the quinoa and daal.

If you like mushrooms, slice them up and cook them in your tharka.


1. Add the quinoa and lentils to a heavy-based saucepan. Wash thoroughly until the water run clear.
2. Fill with 600ml of cold water and throw in the star anise. Heat over the hob and once tepid, add the turmeric and salt.
3. Stir, then bring to a boil over a moderate heat. Whilst it’s boiling, skim off the yellow froth at the surface of the water. If you wish to add frozen mixed vegetables or peas, do so at this stage.
4. Simmer until the quinoa and lentils are soft to the touch and fully cooked. We want a medium consistency mixture like porridge. If the quinoa and daal mixture is looking dry, add some water from a freshly boiled kettle.
5. Now, make the tharka in a separate saucepan. Start by melting the ghee.
6. Add the cumin seeds and once they start to sizzle and crackle in the ghee, stir through the onions.
7. Cook the onions until light brown and softened, then add the garlic, ginger and green chillies.
8. Cook for 2 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring regularly so all ingredients are coated in ghee. If you wish to add mushrooms, add at this stage.
9. Add the paprika, pepper and coriander powder. Stir through, coating the onions and cook for 2 minutes before adding the tomato passata.
10. Cook until the tharka has come together – this is when small bubbles appear around the mixture.
11. Garnish with coriander and pour into the quinoa and mung mixture. Stir well so that the tharka colours the mixture and is evenly distributed.
12. Serve hot and enjoy.

To try more of Dadima's amazing recipes you can buy the book here.

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