As I continue my journey considering what Peruvian foods might have looked like before colonization I realize how often, when we strip back ingredients, good food tastes great all by itself. When I lived in Peru I loved getting emoliente from street vendors anywhere I went (I even wrote about it before lol!). There are different versions of this tea or hot beverage. The one I want to talk about today is Emoliente de quinua (quinoa tea).
I joke with my mother all the time, who loves to load everything savory with garlic and onion and cilantro, that her black beans are so incredibly delicious, but I can't taste the black beans at all. Ha! Likewise, when we make emoliente, or tea, with too many types of fruit or spices we lose the ability to appreciate the taste of individual ingredients. I decided for this version of quinoa tea I would strip it down to the basics and only use ingredients that are mostly indigenous to the Americas: quinoa, pineapple, allspice, and maple syrup. I did throw one stick on cinnamon in the mix to enhance the flavor (originally from Sri Lanka).
Emoliente is very versatile and is most often consumed in the morning as part of breakfast but it also sometimes is drank in the afternoon as a snack. It is also vegan and a great way for vegans to get their protein. Quinoa not only contains protein and all the essential amino acids, which most people know, but since it is a seed is it very high in fiber. It fills you up and quells hunger. It has a low glycemic index which is really good for blood sugar control. It is full of minerals and B vitamins and high in antioxidants. It is a food that it good for diabetics, folks with high blood pressure, and for those looking to lose weight. Don't you just want to drink this now??
If you are interested in seeing how this is prepared more in real time, I also have a video posted on our YouTube channel where I was asked to present at a recent Virtual Intertribal Food Summit 2020. The recipe portion began at about the 8 minute mark.
Last, if ever you have questions about how to properly wash quinoa, as it can be a little bitter tasting due to it being covered in saponin, you can also watch my video Vegan Carapulcra that I produced for the Amherst College Mead Art Museum. I demonstrate my technique for washing quinoa.
I'm going to drop a simple recipe below, which you can use as a base recipe. Feel free to make it your own by adding different types of fruit or use other preferable sweeteners. As always, I'd love to hear from you. Let me know how it turns out!!
Emoliente de quinua (Decolonized) - Serves 6-8
10 cups water, add more if necessary
1 cup quinoa, washed
1 pineapple, skin and core, some cubed fruit (about a cup)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 stick cinnamon
1/3 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons potato starch (chuño)
In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil and add pineapple skin, core, cubed fruit, allspice and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
Remove fruit and spices. Adjust water level if too much water had evaporated.
Squeeze cubed fruit through a colander to get all the juices.
Add washed quinoa to pot and allow to cook for 20 minutes. The quinoa should be open all the way so you can see the little tails.
Add maple syrup. Adjust sweetness at this point. You can also add a dash of salt (optional).
In a small bowl mix the potato starch with a little water to make a slurry.
With either a large whisk or wooden spoon, slowly drizzle slurry into pot, making sure to keep the water moving or it will clump up.
Serve hot or warm. The cooler it gets, the thicker the tea will become.
Buen provecho, amig@s!