Quinua Atamalada (Peruvian Quinoa Stew)

Quinoa Atamalada

Quinoa Atamalada

Creamy, warm, and a little spicy this Peruvian quinoa stew made with the Inca “Mother grain” is the first dish in the Pisco Trail Peruvian vegan dishes series. Presenting, the Quinoa Atamalada. The star of the show is of course the quinoa, but playing a strong supporting role is the incredibly versatile aji amarillo.

When cooking rice or quinoa, I usually use a ratio of 2 parts liquid or broth to 1 part grain. Here, the ratio is 4 parts broth to 1 part grain, and that is what gives this dish its creamy or tamal-like consistency that earns the adjective atamalada. A simple onion and aji amarillo sofrito provides the spicy touch.

The base recipe for this traditional dish is from one of my favorite books by Gaston Acurio. But to add some extra texture, I like to serve the quinoa with toasted pine nuts. Also, instead of using chicken broth, I prepared a vegetable broth with Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base.

This quinoa stew is guaranteed to welcome the Fall season into your kitchen. And if you can’t get enough of cooking with quinoa, you can use some to make a truly unique dessert — the Peruvian flan, or Crema Volteada. All that is missing is a hot cereal with quinoa to complete the trifecta: breakfast, savory, and dessert.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • canola oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste
  • salt, cumin, oregano to taste
  • minced parsley and toasted pine nuts for garnish

In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a pot to cook the quinoa stew and a skillet to toast the pine nuts.

  1. Mince the garlic and parsley, dice the onion. Wash the quinoa. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet and set aside. Prepare the vegetable broth using 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of broth base.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in a pot with canola oil over medium heat. Add the aji amarillo and season with salt, cumin, and oregano.
  3. Add the quinoa and mix well with the onion sofrito.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the broth is absorbed but the quinoa retains a creamy consistency.
  5. Serve warm, topped with toasted pine nuts and parsley.

8 small servings.


The key to making this dish flavorful and creamy is a) the seasoning in the sofrito, and b) being patient while the quinoa is being cooked and the broth reduced. So taste, adjust, stir, and when it’s just right, enjoy.