Lamb and Black Quinoa Pilaff


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Quinoa Cookbook

The Quinoa Cookbook

By Penny Doyle

Published 2013

  • About

This is a Middle Eastern-inspired rice dish that is often made using lamb and flavoured with spices. Here, black quinoa replaces the rice, and is cooked in a rich, spicy tomato stock with colourful vegetables to make a striking dish. Black quinoa retains its bite more than pearl quinoa, so is perfect for this recipe, where texture definition is needed.


  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 5 ml/1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 300 g/11 oz minced (ground) lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small aubergine (eggplant), chopped
  • 1 red (bell) pepper, chopped
  • 25 g/1 oz/¼ cup pitted black olives
  • 275 g/10 oz/1⅔ cups black quinoa
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup water
  • 450 g/1 lb canned chopped tomatoes
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp tomato purée (paste)
  • 1 lamb or chicken stock (bouillon) cube
  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • natural (plain) yogurt, Seeded Flatbread and green salad with lemon juice, to serve


  1. In a small pan, dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds on high heat for 1–2 minutes to release their flavours. Grind using a mortar and pestle or whizz briefly in a coffee grinder.
  2. Add the oil and onion to a large frying pan and fry for 3 minutes on medium heat to soften the onion.
  3. Add the lamb to the pan and fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes before adding the ground seeds, garlic, aubergine, pepper and olives.
  4. Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes. The lamb juices released will be absorbed by the aubergine, but you could drain them off for a less fatty dish, if you wish.
  5. Add the rinsed quinoa, water, tomatoes, tomato purée, stock cube, cardamom pods and bay leaves to the pan, season well with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is soft but still with some bite.
  7. Leave the pilaff to stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Remove the bay leaves, and the cardamom pods if you can find them.
  8. Serve the pilaff drizzled with natural yogurt to offset the naturally rich lamb, along with Seeded Flatbread and crisp salad leaves, dressed with lemon juice.


Use lamb shoulder cut into 1 cm/½ in dice instead of minced (ground) meat.

Nutritional Information: Energy 488kcal/2042kJ; Protein 28g; Carbohydrate 54g, of which sugars 12g; Fat 19g, of which saturates 6g; Cholesterol 57mg; Calcium 152mg; Fibre 8g; Sodium 560mg.