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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quinoa...Quinua is the original name.




Quinua o Kinwa (a quechua word) is a food plant which belongs to the species Chenopodium Quinoa.  Its origin is traced to the peruvian highlands in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca, from where it spread all over South America.  It grows at altitudes of 12,000 feet over the sea level and tolerates cold weather very well .
Archeological findings lead us to assert that this plant was used as a food source by civilizations which flourished as far as 5000 years ago.  The chroniclers talk about this product and its uses by the indians, since they arrived to America.  Garcilazo de la Vega, our mestizo chronicler and son of a spanish captain and an Inca princess, tells us that quinua occupied the second place among the Andean grains in the diet of the Incas and it was widely cultivated in their territory.
Its flower is formed by pearly clusters which resemble rice and which is the main source of its food.  They also ate the leaves in their stews, since they considered it very tasty. They also made beverages with the grain.
Quinua is an excelent source of proteins, aminoacids, Vitamins C and E  phosphorus, potassium, magnesium  and calcium.  It has no cholesterol and is gluten free and non allergic. 
Quinua has great antinflamatory and healing properties and can be used as a great desinfectant of the urinal tract. For those people that are allergic to milk , this product is an excelent substitute as a calcium source. Since it is a leafy grain and doesn't belong to the grass family, it can be tolerated by people who are allergic to grains like wheat ot barley.
Quinua is used to prepare casseroles, soups, breads and beverages, and there are many recipes for its preparation.
The saponin or soapy layer which covers the grains, was used by the Incas to wash their clothes; that is why it is recommended to wash the grains three or four times before cooking them, to take away the bitter taste.
The quinua or so called "golden grain of the incas", continues conquering the international markets, due to its great nutritional value. There has been a steady rise of exports and according to ADEX, there has been a growth of 78% in exports, from January to October of last year; considerably higher than in previous years. United States concentrates 45% of imports of this product. Israel, Germany and Ecuador are also strong importers.  In 2009, Peru was exporting this product to 29 countries.
Having all this said, I thought it would be of wonderful taste, to provide my readers with an excellent recipe for Quinua.  Now, with all these fusion tendencies, Lima chefs in Perú are substituting the original recipes for others which integrate products which are original from this country. And so comes the Quinoto...a substitute of Rissotto, the originally Italian dish.

Quinoto
2 cups of well rinsed quinua (wash it until de liquid comes out clear)
1 cup of mushrooms (canned or fresh)
olive oil
Sazon Goya with zaffron
Annato powder
Salt and Pepper
1 big onion
1 tablespoon of garlic
I pound of cooked shrimp and reserve the water where it boiled
1 can of mushroom condensed soup
1 can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

 After rinsing the quinua three of four times, until de water comes out clear, boil the quinua for 7 to 9 minutes until it is cooked "al dente". Reserve.
Cook powdered annato in 1/3 cup olive oil and fry in this pan the onion and garlic, until clear, but not toasted.  Add and slightly fry the shrimp and mushrooms.
Add the quinua and mix well. 
Add one cup of the shrimp water, one can of evaporated milk, the wine, and the mushroom soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the parmesan cheese.
Mix carefully with a wooden spoon and when it gets the consistency of a loose puree, turn off the heat.  If it's to dense, just add more shrimp water.   Make sure that you don't overcook the shrimp.  You can add chicken or a seafood mixture, instead of the shrimp.  Serve inmediately!!!