Saturday, March 8, 2014

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf or Veggie Cakes?

I was organizing my pantry and spice cabinet yesterday. I was alarmed by putting "quinoa in the corner" - Dirty Dancing reference, sort of - and taking too long to get to it. I have also observed a pattern related to my spice cabinet usage, which goes something like this: buy spices, put spices away, any spices living behind the first row go sadly unnoticed. I have lots of Indian spices that I haven't cooked with in a while, and that is how this recipe came to be. 

I realize you may not have all the spices listed, but that's ok. If you skip a few, the flavor should be just fine. Additionally, if you are not feeling the Indian theme, use your own blend of spices. For example, Italian spices would be great in this recipe. Just add oregano, basil, thyme, crushed red peppers or even paprika while sautéing the vegetables. The possibilities are endless. 

Leftovers are great cubed and pan-fried and served over vegetables. Easy and nutritious lunch. 

Speaking of endless, if you are too hungry to wait for the Quinoa Loaf to bake, use the batter to make veggie cakes instead.  You can also make both: use some of the batter to make vegetable cakes and the remaining part to make the loaf. 

If you decide to use the batter for vegetable cakes, shape them up as you see fit, make the cakes as thin or thick as you like. Fry each cake in oil on each side for about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Also, add more chickpea flour for a firmer consistency if that is what you fancy. I like mine more delicate. 

Have fun and cheers! 

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 bay leaves
4 cups strong vegetable broth

Vegetable and Spice Base Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (vegetable oil may be substituted)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups shredded carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
3/4 to 1 cup chickpea/besan flour

*Note: Don't worry if you don't have all the spices listed above. You can omit a few, and still have great Indian flavor. 
Place quinoa, red lentils, vegetable broth, 2 bay leaves, and turmeric in a medium sized pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the vegetable broth has been absorbed, and the lentils and quinoa are creamy. Remove bay leaves when ready.

Preheat oven to 375F. While the quinoa and red lentils are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a a large non-stick cooking pan over a medium heat. Add coconut oil, and all the spices listed. Fry for about 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. Be sure not to burn the spices or you will have to start over. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and tomato and continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent from sticking.

When ready, use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend the vegetables. Leave some chunks for texture. Skip this step if you are not feeling up to it, just be sure to chop the onion and tomato finely.

Combine cooked quinoa and red lentil mixture with sautéed vegetables, and add chickpea/besan flour. Add the flour gradually to make sure you have the desired batter consistency. Mix well.

Coat well a medium/small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and fill it with the batter. Smooth over the top with your hands or a spoon. Coat with more non-stick cooking spray, and bake in the oven at 375F, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Allow 10-15 minutes rest time before removing from the baking pan. When cooled, flip over the pan on a cutting board, and cut to desired slices. Serve with favorite gravy, chutney or plain. I know it sounds weird, but I like mine with hummus in a wrap.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week in a closed container.


  1. pretty awesome sounding! I would play with adding some millet, and or buckwheat along with flax-meal to up the omegas. thanks for the inspiration! -j

  2. Good ideas John! I love millet and buckwheat.

  3. Funny I happen to have some cooked quinoa and cooked red lentils... I think I'll put them together and attempt this loaf! Thank you!