One of my favorite grain dishes incorporates garam masala, an exotic blend of warm spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cardamon. This exotic spice blend is used in the colder regions of northern India to accent grains and vegetables. Serve this dish cold or at room temperature as a salad, or warm as a side dish.

Instead of getting a store-bought version, make your own spice blend using this garam masala recipe.

Game plan: The salad will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated.

  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 
  • Active: 45 mins 

Ingredients (10)

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 5 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted


  1. Rinse the quinoa well and drain. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the quinoa and stir constantly for 10 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates and the quinoa is fragrant, dry, and golden.
  2. Combine 3 cups of the water, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, and the salt in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the toasted quinoa and return to a boil. Cover and decrease the heat to medium low. Simmer gently without stirring for 15 minutes, or until the liquid evaporates and the grains are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 1 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the currants, and soak for 20 minutes, or until plump. Drain well.
  4. Heat sesame oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, bell pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon garam masala. Sauté for 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallions and sauté 1 minute longer, or until just wilted.
  5. Using a fork, gently toss the celery mixture, currants, and almonds into the quinoa. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate until cold.