When it comes to new foods and flavours, British consumers are amongst the most clued up in the world, but despite its growing popularity there are still many people among us who find quinoa somewhat.... perplexing. Let me bring you up to speed:
This is probably the question we get asked the most, and I imagine it is the main reason why some people aren’t sure where to start with using quinoa in their kitchen.
Most often you will read that it is pronounced ‘keen-wah’ or ‘keen-o-wah’, and yes this is certainly correct at quinoa’s South America origin, however many people in the UK choose the more anglicised pronunciation of ‘kwin-o-a’ just as it is spelled because, well, it’s easier. Personally, we normally say ‘kwin-o-a’ because when we first started our project back in 2005 it was still a very much unknown grain so there was no advise on the back of packs to suggest otherwise, so it kind of stuck. Often though we will switch between the multiple pronunciations depending on who we are talking to (we often find it easiest to just use the same pronunciation as whoever we are speaking with, to help avoid confusion!). There’s no right or wrong way and we believe that people should whichever pronunciation they feel most comfortable.
In brief, quinoa can be used in any recipe that requires the use of rice or couscous. It is cooked in a similar manner to rice, being either boiled or steamed until the grains have absorbed the water and swelled to nearly double their original size – take a look at our basic recipe for cooking quinoa grains. Although that’s not where it ends, as it can be used in multiple other formats such as flakes or flour as it makes a great alternative to porridge and in baking recipes.
This is one of quinoa’s main benefits over rice and couscous, as it is packed with essential amino acids and minerals which make for a super healthy diet. We’ve plenty more information in our nutrition section.
Confusingly, quinoa is most often referred to as a grain (we’re certainly guilty of this slip of the tongue!) but it is in fact a seed. It is classed as a pseudo-cereal, ‘pseudo’ meaning ‘false’ so it isn’t part of the cereal family at all but more closely related to beets and spinach. So why is it so often referred to as a grain? The simplest answer is that the way quinoa is eaten is much closer to a grain than a seed, as it needs to be cooked prior to eating like most other grains.
The British Quinoa Company Ltd