Quinoa Pulao Recipe

Quinoa is the wonder food that is often referred to as “a complete protein” amongst plant-based foods. A grain-like seed originally from Peru, Quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids needed for human health. It cooks in the same way as rice and can often be substituted in rice dishes. Try this Quinoa Pulao recipe and enjoy the health benefits and wonderful taste of Quinoa!

Prep Time: 30 mins soaking time
Cook Rime: 40 – 45 mins
Serves: 4-6


Quinoa – 2 cups
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp
Bay Leaf – 1
Cinnamon Stick – 1″ piece
Black Cardamom – 1
Green Cardamom – 2
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper – 4 or to taste, roughly crushed
Cloves – 4, roughly crushed
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Onions – 1/2 medium, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tbsp, minced
Garlic – 1 tbsp, minced
Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
Corn – 1 cup
Green Peas – 1 cup
Carrots – 1 cup
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Water – 3 cups
Lemon/Lime Juice – to taste


1. Wash Quinoa and soak in ample water for 30 minutes.
2. Drain all water and set aside.
3. In a pan, heat Oil on medium heat.
4. Drop in Whole Spices – Bay Leaf, Cinnamon Stick, Black and Green Cardamom. Cook for 30 seconds.
5. Add in Black Pepper, Cloves and Cumin Seeds. Let them sizzle.
6. Add Turmeric Powder and Onions. Cook for 1 minute.
7. Add Ginger, Garlic and Green Chilies, mix and cook till Onions get translucent.
8. Add Quinoa and roast 5 minutes.
9. Add Vegetables, Garam Masala, Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder and Salt. Mix
10. Pour in Water and add Lemon Juice.
11. Mix and let the water come to boil.
12. Reduce flame to low, cover with tight lid and cook for 30 minutes.
13. Remove lid, fluff Quinoa gently, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes.
14. Garnish with Cilantro and serve.

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113 thoughts on “Quinoa Pulao Recipe

  1. I made this dish and added some cooked whole moong dal, making it into Kitchri (kitchdi?). It was delicious. We very seldom use rice anymore, because of the starch.

    So, it was kitchri with moong dal and quinoa.

  2. Hi Very excited to view your site. Please let me know where I could buy quinoa from? my son is being put on a gluten casein free diet and this will be good substitute. Please help. oh! i live in mumbai : )

  3. What’s with all the comments about roasting quinoa? I know, the comments were posted almost a year ago but couldn’t just resist commenting back. I don’t understand the big deal about roasting and not roasting.

    As with Indian cooking we all INDIANS tend to roast the grains we add to pulao or biryanis and the process is being followed for generations! It’s just a simple cooking trick! Roasting the pre-soaked grains makes it more fluffy (after cooking of-course) and all the masalas gets coated onto the vegetables and the grains.

    When it comes to boasting recipes from Grandma’s secret recipe book, you’ll see for sure ‘ROAST THE GRAINS BEFORE ADDING WATER’. Give Hetal a break. She is just trying to share some good recipes in Indian style! My 2yr old toddler loves Quinoa chicken biryani. I came in here to browse other stuff but bumped into some party crashing commenters.

    FYI: This is for the so called healthy criticizers (Ms. R).

    Quinoa has a coating called saponin which gives it a bitter taste. So people from Peru (Quinoa doesn’t grow in INDIA, atleast so far) suggest to rub & clean quinoa 3-4 times or until the water runs clear. Rubbing is to remove the saponin layer. And the ‘TAIL’ you mention of is the germ of the seed and NOT the outer layer. The germ gets separated from the seed after cooking. Simple logic. Cooking doesn’t remove the saponin, rubbing & cleaning surely does:). I’m sure you are feeding a bitter-licious quinoa to your family;)

    Quinoa naturally has a mild nutty flavor & a grainy texture whether you roast it or not. Biochemically, it’s rich in lysine, an essential alpha-AA (amino acid of-course) which is a necessary building block for all protein in the body. In layman’s term, good for your health. Hope all this info, is as laxative as quinoa is for you healthy criticizer! Have fun! Bye for now.

    PS: Kindly post this comment. There is no inappropriate comment above.

  4. Hi , hetal. I just started usin quinoa. It’s so tasty.I made a chicken and vegetable quinoa with feta cheese. It was so tasty. Thank you for this recepe. need more quinoa recepes please.

  5. You girls Rock!!!!

    Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for this wonderful recipe. I chanced upon this when I googled “quinoa and desi” (go figure!)and since then my wife and I have had this at least 3 times in a week. We have modified the recipe a little to make it a tad more healthy (broccolli, carrots, cauliflower and very little oil) but it tastes awesome and I am no longer intimidated by thus curious little seed 🙂

    Do you have other healthy recipes for chicken and fish, with a desi twist? I would be really interested to know since we are keeping up with our New Years resolution of eating healthy and getting fit but are getting tired of Subway 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing this recipe…

  6. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Thank you for this wonderful receipe. I tried this for a party. It came out very well. All of my friends & family enjoyed it. I am a big fan of yours. You both are doing a great job. I wish you all the very best.

    Thanks again,
    Nandini Siddaraj

  7. Ok, so I finally bought the bag and made it. It was fabulous and ate it without feeling guilty. I used 1 cup of Quinoa and cut the veggies in half, but kept the same amount of spices and used 2 cups of water. Turned out just like the one in the video. Great recipe.

    Thanks a lot.

      1. Is it safe to say that we can replace rice with Quinoa when making certain rice dishes? For example, jeera-rice would be jeera-quinoa or quinoa and daal..sounds funny but I think it would be possible!?!

        1. Hi Pinal,

          For the most part, yes, you can replace rice with quinoa. Both require the same amount of liquid and cooking time.

  8. Hetal and Anuja,

    After a long time, im back to your wesite..bought quinoa the other day and looked up this recipe…made it…gosh, the taste is divine…love the flavors of the spices in the recipe with quinoa and veggies, so nutritious..my 6yo and I njoyed it!!!!!! thanks a ton! keep them coming..

  9. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    Thanks a lot for this amazing recipe. It was a big hit with my ultra picky husband. He thought it was one of the best pulaos he had had in a long time.

    I would appreciate it if u can show the recipe for Masala Dosa.

  10. Hetal/Anuja,
    I tried this out today with Shaan Biryani masala(1 tsp) instead of the other masalas. it turned out great. To round off the flavor I added about 4 tsps coconut milk pwder when it was almost done cooking & it really took it to the next level:-)

  11. Thanks Anuja and Hetal: Quinoa with Indian spices! So creative and yummy. I used to eat quinoa while living in Peru. I have to say it was not my favorite (I used to find it a little bland), but this recipe is sooo good, tasty, easy and healthy. Today I will make it for the third time. The two previous times it was a hit with my family and my neighbors who came for dinner. I put half a cup more of water to make it softer because of my 1 year old baby. Thank you again girls! I will send you the recipe for a yummy “quinoa drink”

    1. Hi Sandhya,

      Quinoa is definitely a healthier substitute to white rice or brown rice as it provides protein along with the carbs. Even brown rice is a better option than white rice. Whether or not you can actually lose weight by eating quinoa is unclear. There are a lot of variables in weight loss, including exercise.

  12. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Another awsome recipe! I loved the Quinoa soup and can’t wait to try the Pulao. Can you also post some recipes with Brown Rice? Thanks!

  13. FAO Aruna Mahesh request..
    The closest to Quinoa is RAJGIRA Grain I am told.Maybe you should try this.

  14. Just made this a few days ago as I am now on a gluten/dairy free diet due to allergies. It has been hard to find tasty foods, but this turned out great! Thanks for all your recipes!

  15. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    A unique recipe packed with protein. Lovely. Likewise, can you please show us some soyabean recipes which is again filled with protein so that we can cutback on meat consumption



  16. Hey Hetal/Anuja,

    It is wonderful to see you guys post 2 recipes every work… Must involve lot of work.. Kudos to the effort you guys put in!!!


  17. Hi,

    This recipe looks very delicious. I will definitely try it soon. It’ll be a great source of protein for my 13 month old and us.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Aruna,

      Sorry, we also have not had any luck with finding a hindi name for quinoa. Maybe some of our other viewers can help.

  18. I have been cooking quinoa for almost about 10 years now, & I always cook it in the rice cooker. You need to wash it well for it has a natural coating of soapy substances that taste awful. Of late, as its popularity has grown, the quinoa is being supplied prewashed by the suppliers, so rinsing 3-4 times is enough. Earlier I used to have to really scrub it & rinse it a whole lot more. If, like me, you decide at the last moment, that this is what you are cooking, use 2 & 1/2 cups of water for each cup of quinoa. Quinoa is from the same family, Amaranthaceae as & is a close cousin of the amaranth or chaulai (aka rajgira/seel (Punjabi)/pu-n-kirai (Tamil). Quinoa is from a different subfamily, chenopodium. It is much more nutritious than wheat or rice, for it has complete protein & has a very high levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus & zinc, manganese & vitamin B2. I frequently mix its flour with the wheat flour too for added benefit, preferring it over soy. The difference in taste between red and white quinoa is subtle. White quinoa has a lighter, more delicate flavor, while red quinoa is a bit earthier.

    1. Hi Plato,
      That’s great to know, kindly advise if any Indian supplier does supply this product, as you have “India gate Basmati”.. “Tamilnadu Ponni rice ” etc do you have any brand name to suggest pls.

    1. Hi Vidya,

      We also have not had any luck with a hindi name for quinoa. Maybe some of our other viewers can help.

    1. Hi Nalini,

      Couscous will not work in this recipe as couscous does not need to be cooked. It will become mushy.

  19. This looks so good, I eat quinoa regularly and I was getting bored of the simple way I cook it… I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

  20. I have already made this same recipe it comes out like a upma its very tasty and healthy too good carbs high protein,good for the heart.its very reasonable in US in costco.u gals rock keep up the good work!!!!

  21. hi anuja & hetal,
    thanks for the recipe, i brought quino long time back and its lying in my pantry now I know what to do with it! and I really appreciate the way you answer all the queries immediately.. i dont have any questions to ask, but just curious on how you get your ginger garlic minced to such small pieces, do you use some cutter to do that ???

    1. I am also curious to know that,especially in ur reshmi kabab recipe u have minced mint really small,how did u do that…….

      1. Hi S,

        The best way to chop any herbs is with a big, sharp knife. You can layer the mint leaves on top of each other, fold or roll them and then chop.

    2. Hi Arc,

      Depending on how much we have to mince, we either use a very sharp (big) knife, or a processor like the Ninja, or a wet grinder that comes with the Indian style mixies. The wet grinder makes pastes.

      1. I have always had this question mind but hesistated to ask thinking my skills are not sharp enough to do it.. The Ginger and garlic however I do, whatever I do, it doesn’t get to be that fine minced.

        1. Hi Sonia,

          Maybe you can invest in a coffee grinder that has a removable container. They are small and work well to finely chop things like ginger and garlic. Also, some Indians stores carry a “chutney maker” – same concept like a coffee maker. If you need to buy a larger blender as well, some of the Indian mixie style blenders have a small jar that is great to finely chop things as well.

      2. Oh Hetal ! I have a coffee grinder, but isn’t it supposed to be for just dry ingredients ? I use it to dry grind spices. It has some sort of gap at the bottom due to which liquid cud seep thru’. Also the blades are not at the flat – bottom like our chutney grinders, it is a little above it, making it difficult to grind ginger or garlic in small quantities. I shud give it a try for a little more qty and store em. will keep you posted on how that goes. Thanks so much Hets for your prompt responses.

        1. Hi Sonia,

          As long as the cup is removable (washable), you can use it for wet grinding. Many coffee grinders do not have a removable cup and those are good for dry spice grinding.

    1. Hi Sonia,

      A good analogy would be: white quinoa is to white rice as red quinoa is to brown rice. The texture of red quinoa is more chewy and crunchy.

  22. thanks for this recipe. I have tried to like quinoa in the past but ended up gaging on it. Quinoa with indian spices is somehing i’d like to try.

    1. Hi Supraja,

      You can find it at most grocery stores in the US. We buy ours from Sprouts (bulk section) or from Costco.

      1. Costco is a better option. You get a big bag for 8 bucks.

        Hetal: Most of the time they say it’s pre-rinsed. So does that mean if we rinse it, gets rid of some nutrition or is it just better to not rinse if it is pre-rinsed.

        1. Hi Sonia,

          We get our quinoa from the bulk bin so we make sure we wash it. If it says “pre-rinsed” then you probably don’t have to rinse it. Unless it is also enriched (like long grain rice), you probably will not lose any nutrients by washing it.

  23. FYI- I have made Quinoa and this recipe looks appetizing. I have cooked Quinoa using the rice cooker. It is quicker and easy as well.

  24. I agree with ‘R’.There is no need to roast Quinoa.I always cook Quinoa without roasting and it comes out very fluffy.

  25. Wonderful recipe. Since I eat only vegetarian food, I’m always looking for something with protein. Will certainly try it out.

      1. I cook quinoa in the rice cooker all the time. Just use the white rice setting. It comes out great I like to just toss it with a little Ethiopian spiced clarified butter (niter kibbe)

  26. Hi H & A,
    I love this recipe, it looks very delicious, i am sure going to try this. Thanks for all the recipe :)))

  27. It says the video you requested is not available ,this is the first time i am not able to watch the video……….

  28. I use Quinoa frequently. I just wash it and cook it in the microwave. I add suated onions, peanuts, lemon juice, etc and make it like lemon rice. Sometimes I prepare dish very similar to curd rice using Quinoa.
    I think you can skip the step where you roasted it. The outer layer comes off when it is cooked (its the “tail” Anuja mentioned). So roasting it may not add much benefit. I have noticed that it turns out “grainy” even when I do not roast it and sometimes even when I have little extra water.

    1. Hi R,

      The roasting was more for flavor (more nutty) and not texture. But yes, in the interest of time savings, you could skip that step.

      1. This is a definitely a wonder recipe – I usually make quinoa soup —-and dont roast it – still i get that nutty flavour / texture when you have it.
        Quicoa is just a superb grain …

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