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How do you pronounce ‘quinoa’?
While commonly mispronounced as ‘keen-oh-ah’, quinoa’s pronunciation in English is actually ‘KEEN-wah’, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The incorrect pronunciation is often attributed to the spelling of this word, which was derived from Spanish. Early Spanish documents spelled the first word for this as quinua, but by the late 18th century, the preferred way to spell this word became ‘quinoa’, which eventually became the favoured form. Here is a quick Youtube clip with an audio guide for the correct way to say it.
Why is quinoa pronounced as ‘keen-wah’?
While some believed that the word ‘quinoa’ is Spanish in origin and thus incorrectly pronounced it as ‘keen-oh-wah’, the word originates from the Andean language of Quechua. In its native language, it is spelled as kinuwa and pronounced as ‘keen-u-wah’. As the word became Anglicised, that ‘u’ sound disappeared, leading to the current pronunciation. It may sound a bit funny, but if you want to ask for this grain correctly in the supermarket, that’s how you say it!
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is an Andean plant that has edible seeds. The word ‘quinoa’ is typically used to refer to the seed, which is rich in protein and B vitamins, and is considered a staple of Andean diets. It is not a grain, but it looks very similar to other grains and cereals like millet or short-grain rice.
The belief that it is a grain may also come from the similarity of cooking methods. Quinoa is prepared by cooking quinoa in water: as the seed absorbs the hot water, it puffs up and becomes fluffy, giving it a millet-like appearance.
Are there different kinds of quinoa?
The most common quinoa variety available is white, but there are other commercially-available kinds with varying cooking times. White quinoa cooks in only ten to fifteen minutes and is quite mild, while black quinoa is chewier and needs up to 20 minutes to cook thoroughly. Red quinoa is somewhere in between, needing about 15 to 17 minutes to cook.
Though they have different colours and preparation times, they’re all equally rich in nutrients and have the same light, nutty taste.
How is quinoa eaten?
Quinoa needs to be boiled before it can be eaten. The usual ratio is to boil one part dry quinoa to two parts water. Don’t over-boil it, as this can lead to a mushy texture. You can opt to boil it in vegetable stock instead to add a different flavour. After the seeds absorb most of the liquid, turn off the heat and take out the quinoa so you can separate the grains with a fork. This is what gives it a fluffy texture.
After being boiled for the required period of time in water, quinoa can be eaten on its own or mixed with greens as a healthy salad. This cooked seed can also be the base of your daily porridge, as the main ingredient of vegan patties, or to add needed textures to soups without using rice.
Quinoa also readily absorbs spices and sauces, so a trendy way to prepare this seed is to put it in tacos. If you’re looking for sweet treats, toasted quinoa can easily be added to muffins and cakes to make them healthier.
Quinoa is easy to prepare and full of dietary essentials
It may be a funny mouthful to pronounce, but it’s definitely worth the effort to learn to say it correctly. It’s not a seed native to Australia, but its popularity as a superfood has made it readily available in our supermarkets, and it’s a versatile addition to many recipes.
Don’t let the tricky spelling and pronunciation intimidate you from buying this nutritious seed from your local grocery!
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