Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5765 - April 20, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Quinoa Should Not be Used on Pesach

by M. Plaut

For our Pesach issue we received a very nice article on quinoa. For some years, it was widely believed that quinoa is permissible on Pesach. However in fact it is not to be used on Pesach, according to the Vaad Hakashrus of the Eida HaChareidis.

The article (see accompanying article) included the basic reference for its permissibility on Pesach: a ruling given by HaRav Blau of Yerushalayim in 5756 (1996). However when we called to verify this ruling, as we routinely do, we got a surprise.

HaRav Blau told us unequivocally that he does not give out any halachic information about quinoa and refused to discuss the issue any further.

We contacted the Vaad Hakashrus of the Eida HaChareidis in Yerushalayim (with which HaRav Blau is affiliated) and they referred us to Rav Brizel, who is in charge of "Spices and Kitniyos" and is thus their expert on this matter. He was very helpful in an interview, but he said that he believes that it is included in the general gezeiroh of kitniyos that the Ashkenazim follow for Pesach.

He told us that he had been researching quinoa for years. He said that he had spoken about the matter to HaRav Blau more than a year ago, and HaRav Blau said that he does not know anything about quinoa. Rav Brizel said that he has been carrying around a picture of the plant for more than a year but still does not feel that he knows all that he would like to know. Still, he felt that it would be included within the halachic boundaries of kitniyos.

Quinoa: The Mother Grain

by A. Hershberg

Permit me to introduce the grain quinoa (pronounced keen-wa or kee-noo-ah).

Quinoa, the grain of the Incas, has been cultivated in the Andean highlands of South America for thousands of years. The word quinoa comes from the Quecha language spoken by the Incas and many indigenous in South America. It was one of the most sacred foods of the ancient Incas. Because quinoa was so nourishing, delicious and vital they called it "chesiya mama," the Mother Grain. Every year the Inca emperor, using a golden spade, planted the first quinoa seeds of the season.

Quinoa is a broad leafed annual herb. When mature, this tall plant is topped with large plume-like seed heads that range in color from vivid red, orange or yellow to black or white. Before being consumed, quinoa seeds must be processed to remove their bitter coating of saponin. After washing or dry polishing, the seeds are white or beige in color.

Quinoa's spinach-like leaves and its seeds are highly nutritious. The leaves may be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. They are high in Vitamin A. The seeds are rich in protein, high in fiber, particularly rich in the amino acid lysine, a good source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B and E, low in sodium and gluten-free.

Quick-cooking, quinoa holds well and blends nicely with a wide variety of ingredients. Cooked quinoa is extremely versatile because it can be used instead of almost any other grain, including rice, to make everything from appetizers to desserts.

Until the 1980s, quinoa was virtually unknown in North America. Quinoa is not related to the five grains: wheat, barley rye, oats and spelt. Quinoa is not related to millet nor to rice. It is a member of the "goose foot" family which includes sugar beets and beet root. Quinoa does not grow in the vicinity of the five types of grain. However most — perhaps all — authorities today feel that it is included in the general gezeiroh of kitniyos.

Why then is quinoa, unlike the other Inca foods maize and potatoes, so little known outside of South America? One theory is that the Spaniards who brought maize and potatoes back to Europe in the 16th Century may have tasted quinoa that had not been properly processed and therefore failed to realize its potential. Another theory is that with the European conquest of the indigenous, the cultivation of quinoa was suppressed because of its religious significance for the Incas.

Quinoa can be purchased in health food stores.

Quinoa has been a windfall for us since our oldest son is a vegetarian. It is easy to check for bugs (I have never found any) — far easier than brown rice — and cooks in half the time. However, it is more expensive than brown rice. The basic recipe for quinoa is as follows:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Check for unwanted guests such as bugs or pebbles. Remove any saponin residue by rinsing quinoa thoroughly with cold water before cooking. Place quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). The quinoa is done when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Makes 3 cups. I fry onions and mushrooms and add it to the quinoa with salt before or after cooking for more flavor.

Quinoa and Cauliflower

2 medium onions

2 cups quinoa

1 head cauliflower

2 tablespoons salt

4 cups water

Chop onions and cauliflower. Place in pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Add salt. Add quinoa and bring to a boil. Simmer 25-30 minutes.

Quinoa Pilaf

1/2 cup carrot, diced

1/2 cup green onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup green pepper, diced

1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced

6 cups cooked quinoa

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup almonds, sliced

1/4 tsp. oregano

salt to taste

Saute chopped vegetables in olive oil until clear, yet crisp: stir in oregano. Add garlic. Saute another few minutes. Add sauteed vegetables to cooked, hot quinoa, mixing well. Add salt to taste. Dry-roast almonds in heavy skillet until lightly golden. Add almonds and mix. Serves 6-8.

Quinoa is a great grain to keep on hand year-round. With its good taste, versatility and abundance of nutrients it's no wonder that quinoa is considered the Mother Grain.

Nutrition Chart

Quinoa/1/2 cup dry

Calories 318

Total fat (g) 4.9

Saturated fat (g) 0.5

Monounsaturated fat (g) 1.3

Polyunsaturated fat (g) 2

Dietary fiber (g) 5

Protein (g) 11

Carbohydrate (g) 59

Cholesterol (mg) 0

Sodium (mg) 18

Riboflavin (mg) 0.3

Vitamin E (mg) 4.1

Copper (mg) 0.7

Iron (mg) 7.9

Magnesium (mg) 179

Manganese (mg) 1.9

Phosphorus (mg) 349

Potassium (mg) 629

Zinc (mg) 2.8



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