Full of bold flavors, this Almond Date Indian Quinoa Salad is a sweet/savory plant-based powerhouse. Find out how to make your quinoa taste better, along with 2 great ways to serve this dish! Whether you’re having it on a random Thursday or making it for Pesach, it’s sure to be a hit.
Often I hear of new restaurants and cafés with menus that make my mouth water. They’re rarely kosher, though, which means that I can only feast with my eyes, and maybe my nose if I happen to walk by an open door. On the bright side, it’s always a great source of inspiration for me as I try to create their menu at home.
Putting the ol’ Sara spin on it, one dish at a time.
This Almond Date Indian Quinoa (it’s a mouthful, I know) is based on meal I actually did get to taste. I was in New York the day before Thanksgiving. It was freezing cold, I spent far too long on public transportation, and after doing puzzles at the math museum for a while all I could think about was finding food.
Thankfully the Big Apple is pretty solid on the kosher food front. Searching Google as quickly as my numb fingers would allow, my friend and I found a place nearby called Bombay Sandwich Co. It seemed as good as the next place. Besides, you know how it is when hanger strikes. All signals point directly to feed me.
Either we were the only people crazy enough to be outside or everyone else was watching the Macy’s balloons get blown up for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Frankly, I didn’t care because our dinner was ready that much faster.
One bite into the wrap and I was thoroughly intrigued. Despite reading the description on the menu, I was surprised to taste cardamom in the quinoa. Interesting, not something I’m used to in quinoa, but not bad either. Another bite left the sweet taste of a date on my tongue. Maybe sweet and savory was popular in Indian-style cuisine. I made a mental note to look into it later and then moved on, enjoying the sensation of my stomach filling.
Well, here we are, just about 5 months later, and I can finally check that off the to-do list.
Cardamom is one of the top Indian flavors, used in countless spice blends for the slight sweetness it provides. Although I knew it’s one of the components of chai, I didn’t think to apply it anywhere else. Weird, considering how much I love using ingredients in new ways. Chalk it up to experience, I suppose. As I scrolled through the list, my eye caught on turmeric and cumin, which I love using together. Figuring go big or go home, I decided to make an intensely flavored Indian quinoa salad that would rival the one I ate that night.
(In case you ever eat at Bombay Sandwich Co., I thought the lentils were off-the-charts incredible. The quinoa wrap could have been better. Good thing soon you’ll be making your own.)
Ready for a fun fact? Adding spices or other flavorings to your quinoa while it’s cooking leaves you with a much more potent taste than you get from seasoning it later. If you use turmeric, then you even get a pretty color. I’ve done this with balsamic vinegar, too, and it works wonders. Once you’ve got the quinoa going, there isn’t much left to do. Probably puts Indian Quinoa at the top of your list, right?
The almonds can be left out if you’re nut-free, or swapped for another crunch. Some kind of seed would do well in this dish. The dates, on the other hand, are part of the Indian-style theme going on here, so I don’t recommend skipping it. They really add another dimension to the sweet/savory blend.
I think this Indian Quinoa tastes great served on a bed of baby greens. However, for a more portable option, put it in your favorite wrap. No fuss, all the fun. Also, this is one of those great recipes that are naturally kosher for Pesach, yet you’d be happy eating all year. You can bet it’s showing up on my table this year.
If you try this recipe, I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below, save it on Pinterest, or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram so that I can see your creations!
- 1½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¾ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cardamom
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup dried dates, sliced
- ½ cup raw almonds, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- handful baby spring mix, optional
- Combine the quinoa, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom with 3 cups of water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cover, letting cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed.
- Once cooked, immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork. Mix in the dates, almond, and chives.
- Optional: serve over a bed of baby spring mix, or your favorite dark leafy greens. (I think arugula might go well with this!)
- Store in a container in the fridge for up to 1 week.