Quick & Easy Quinoa Pilaf Upma Recipe

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a recipe for you today that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more! This scrumptious Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) is a perfect combination of health and flavor. Are you tired of eating the same old breakfast dishes every day, feeling sluggish and unenergetic? Well, this delectable South Indian-style breakfast dish stuffed with so many nutritious ingredients is what you need to jumpstart your day and feel refreshed.

Made with quinoa, one of the most protein-rich grains on the planet, this recipe is a light yet filling meal that will keep you going throughout the day. The quinoa upma instantly made in an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker will soon become a family favorite, and this dish loaded with vegetables such as peas, onions, cashew nuts, ginger, and green chili pepper is easily customizable to your liking.

This recipe has been passed down through generations; it is tried and tested and guaranteed to be a hit at any mealtime. Whether served as a main course or side dish, Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) can be paired with just about anything. It’s also perfect for those who prefer vegetarian or vegan dishes or are trying to eat healthier.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the ingredients list and discover how to make this mouth-watering dish that will make an absolute treasure in your recipe box!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) (Pressure Cooker)
Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) (Pressure Cooker)

Friends, families or even yourself, who doesn’t love a warm and delicious dish that is loaded with wholesome and nutritious ingredients? If you’re looking for such a recipe that not only taste great but is also satisfying to your hunger pangs, then I have the perfect solution for you – Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) made in a Pressure Cooker!

What sets this recipe apart from other dishes is its unique blend of spices that bring out an incredible aroma and flavors. The use of ginger, curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin seeds will awaken your taste buds like never before, indulging them in an explosion of taste and texture.

But that’s not all! This Indian-style breakfast dish loaded with vegetables such as peas, onions and green chilies, will fill your stomach with healthy proteins, fiber and other essential nutrients. Using quinoa instead of rice adds a wonderful twist to the recipe, making it gluten-free and easily digestible.

The best part about this recipe is its versatility. You can customize it according to your preferences by adding vegetables of your choice or by using cracked wheat instead of quinoa. It can be served as a side dish with rice or enjoyed as a vegetarian main course meal.

Moreover, the time-saving technique of using an instant pot pressure cooker will allow you to have this potmeal ready in just 3 minutes! Making it ideal for busy mornings or those lazy weekday dinners when you want something quick yet satisfying.

So come on, what’s stopping you from trying this incredible Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) Recipe? It’s the perfect balance between healthy ingredients and exotic flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. Trust me; your taste buds are going to thank you!

Ingredient List

 A hearty and healthy Quinoa Pilaf is a perfect fix for a quick and scrumptious meal!
A hearty and healthy Quinoa Pilaf is a perfect fix for a quick and scrumptious meal!

Here are the ingredients that you will need for this flavorful quinoa pilaf recipe:

  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed (use the fine mesh strainer to rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds if preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (use any vegetable oil you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup of cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas (you can use fresh as well)
  • Seasoning salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

The Recipe How-To

 This delicious dish will leave your taste buds tantalized and begging for more!
This delicious dish will leave your taste buds tantalized and begging for more!

Step-by-Step: How to Make Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) in a Pressure Cooker

This recipe for quinoa pilaf, also known as upma, is a south Indian style vegetarian breakfast dish loaded with vegetables and aromatic seasoning. Using a pressure cooker makes it an effortless one-pot meal cooked perfectly every time. Follow these simple steps to make quinoa pilaf in just under 30 minutes.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1½ cups water (to rinse the quinoa)
  • 1 cup water (for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Curry leaves
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • A few cashew nuts
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • Seasoning salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer under running water until the water runs clear. Drain well and keep aside.

  2. Turn on your pressure cooker to sauté mode and add cooking oil to it. Let it heat for half a minute before adding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.

  3. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add chopped onions, green chili pepper, ginger and cashew nuts to the pot. Sauté them together for about a minute until the onions are translucent.

  4. Add frozen peas to this mixture and stir for another minute.

  5. Add the rinsed quinoa to the pot and mix well with other ingredients

  6. Add seasoning salt to taste.

  7. Pour water into the pot.

  8. Set the Instant Pot lid and turn on high pressure mode for 3 minutes.

  9. After completion of cooking cycle wait for natural release (for about 10 mins)

  10. After natural release open the instant pot lid

  11. Give it a gentle stir and serve hot with lemon wedges.

This quinoa upma recipe can be served either as a delicious south Indian style breakfast or as a side dish with rice or vegetable pulao. The flavors of this quinoa pilaf are rich in spices making it not only healthy but also deliciously satisfying to your taste buds – perfect for vegetarians looking to jazz up their daily menu!

Substitutions and Variations

 Comfort food never tasted so good with our Quinoa Pilaf recipe!
Comfort food never tasted so good with our Quinoa Pilaf recipe!

Now that you have the basic recipe down, it’s time to experiment with different variations and substitutions to cater to your personal taste preferences. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

– Add in some vegetables: This dish is already loaded with vegetables, but feel free to add in some additional ones like bell peppers, carrots, or even spinach. Adding vegetables will not only enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the dish but also add some vibrancy to the presentation.

– Swap quinoa for other grains: Though quinoa is the star of this recipe, you can swap it with other grains like rice, couscous, or even cracked wheat. Each grain offers their own unique texture and taste so be sure to experiment with different ones.

– Customize the seasoning: If you want to experiment with different flavors, feel free to switch up the seasoning. Instead of using curry leaves and mustard seeds, try cumin seeds and coriander powder for a slightly different taste profile.

– Add protein: If you want to make this dish a little more protein-packed, add in some beans or tofu. Chickpeas or black beans work very well in this recipe and give it an extra boost of protein.

– Customize the spice level: If you prefer things on the spicier side, opt for more green chili peppers in the recipe. But if you prefer things mild or don’t like spice at all, simply omit them altogether.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s incredibly versatile and can be customized in so many ways based on your dietary preferences or available ingredients. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new!

Serving and Pairing

 The flavors of the Indian Upma are blended so well in our Quinoa Pilaf Preparation!
The flavors of the Indian Upma are blended so well in our Quinoa Pilaf Preparation!

When it comes to serving and pairing, there are plenty of options for this delicious quinoa pilaf (upma) recipe. It can be served as a side dish with your favorite meat, such as grilled chicken or roasted beef. You can also pair it with a vegetarian curry for a complete, satiating meal.

Since this dish is flavorful and hearty on its own, you may not need to add any additional sides. However, if you want to add some crunch and texture, a vegetable salad or crispy papad may be perfect. And let’s not forget the lemon wedges – they are the perfect addition to bring out the tangy flavors in this dish.

For breakfast, this South Indian-style quinoa upma can be enjoyed with some plain yogurt or a boiled egg for added protein. You may also serve it with some coconut chutney or tomato chutney if you want to give it an extra kick of flavor.

Whether you’re serving this quinoa pilaf (upma) recipe as a side dish or a main course, it pairs well with a wide variety of flavors and ingredients. So go ahead, experiment with different combinations until you find one that suits your palate perfectly!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A scrumptious bowl of our Quinoa Pilaf is all you need to make your day better!
A scrumptious bowl of our Quinoa Pilaf is all you need to make your day better!

One of the best things about quinoa pilaf is that it can be easily made ahead of time, and stored for later use. By reheating the dish properly, you can enjoy its delicious flavors and textures with ease.

To make ahead: Prepare the recipe as instructed, then allow it to cool completely. Transfer the quinoa pilaf into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To store: Similar to making-ahead, transfer any leftover quinoa pilaf into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat: The easiest way to reheat quinoa pilaf is on the stovetop. Simply add a little bit of water or broth (about 1/4 cup per cup of quinoa) to the pot and let it come to a simmer. Next, add in the leftover quinoa pilaf, stir well, and let it cook until heated through. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of your pot.

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to reheat on the stove, you can also microwave your quinoa pilaf. Just transfer it into a microwave-safe dish or bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and heat for about 2 minutes on high power. Stir well, then heat again for another minute or two until heated through.

Whether making ahead or reheating leftovers, remember not to overcook your quinoa pilaf as this may cause it to become too mushy. As long as you follow these tips for storing and reheating your dish properly, you’ll be able to enjoy its delicious flavors anytime you like!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Our Quinoa Pilaf recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any dinner party!
Our Quinoa Pilaf recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any dinner party!

When it comes to cooking quinoa pilaf in a pressure cooker, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to ensure your dish comes out perfectly every time.

Firstly, always rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking it. Simply place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cool running water for about a minute or until the water runs clear. Rinsing the quinoa helps remove any bitterness and prevents it from clumping together.

Next, when using a pressure cooker or an instant pot, always add enough liquid to properly cook the quinoa. For every one cup of quinoa, use one and a half cups of liquid. This will ensure that your quinoa is cooked evenly and does not come out dry or undercooked.

Another tip for perfect results is to use seasoning salt and curry leaves when sautéing the onions, ginger, and green chili peppers. The seasoning salt adds extra flavor while making sure that the dish doesn’t get too salty. The fresh curry leaves add an authentic South Indian flavor to the dish.

When adding vegetables to your quinoa pilaf, make sure to chop them evenly so they cook properly in the pressure cooker. You can use any vegetable you like but peas always compliment the dish with their sweetness.

Lastly, allow for natural pressure release of 5 minutes before opening the lid of your pressure cooker. This will ensure that all of the steam has been released and you won’t get burned by hot steam being released when you open the lid.

By following these simple tips and tricks, you’ll be able to create a delicious, nutritious and flavorful quinoa pilaf (upma) that will impress anyone at the dining table.


Now that you have learned all the details of making this quinoa pilaf (upma) recipe, let’s answer some frequently asked questions to make sure you have a perfect cooking experience. These FAQ will cover queries about the cookware used, ingredient substitutions, and tips for delicious results. Read on to clear any doubts you may have and be confident in your cooking skills.

What setting do you cook quinoa on in a pressure cooker?

To start, it’s important to give the quinoa a good rinse using cold running water. This ensures that any excess starch is removed and the quinoa is cooked evenly.

Next, prepare your Instant Pot by giving the liner a quick spray with cooking oil to prevent any sticking. Add in the rinsed quinoa, along with some water and a pinch of salt for flavor.

Once everything is in the pot, make sure to lock the lid in place and set the steam valve to its “sealing” position. This absolutely critical, as it regulates the pressure inside the pot and ensures that the quinoa is cooked properly.

Now it’s time to get cooking! Using the “MANUAL” button, set the pot to cook for just one minute on high pressure. Don’t be alarmed by the short cooking time – this is all it takes to make perfect, fluffy quinoa in your Instant Pot!

How to cook quiona in pressure cooker?

To start, it’s crucial to get rid of any impurities from the quinoa. I suggest washing it thoroughly using a fine-mesh strainer under cold water until every last bit of dirt is gone. Once cleaned, it’s time to transfer it to the pressure cooker. Pour in the liquid of your choosing and add a pinch of salt if that’s your preference. It’s important to make sure the lid is securely in place before moving on to the next step. Choose the Manual/Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for just one minute*.

How to cook quinoa without a rice cooker?

Firstly, in a saucepan, add the quinoa and water or stock then place it on medium-high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer without a lid. This will give the quinoa enough time to absorb all the liquid. It would take between 10 to 15 minutes for the liquid to be fully absorbed. However, if you are making a sizable batch of quinoa, cooking time might take longer, around 20 minutes.

Bottom Line

: So, there you have it – a delicious and healthy recipe for Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) that can be made easily in your pressure cooker or instant pot. With a variety of vegetables and spices, this dish is sure to satisfy your taste buds and keep you feeling full for longer.

Quinoa is not only packed with nutrients like fiber, protein, and magnesium, but it is also gluten-free and easy to digest. By incorporating quinoa into your daily diet, you can improve your overall health and well-being.

So why not give this recipe a try? It’s simple, quick, and a great way to switch up your usual breakfast routine. Not only is it perfect for vegetarians and vegans, but it also makes for a great side dish or light lunch option.

Remember to rinse your quinoa thoroughly before cooking to ensure that it cooks evenly and to get rid of any impurities. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different veggies or adding some extra spices to suit your personal taste preferences.

In conclusion, this Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) is the perfect dish for anyone who wants something filling, healthy, and delicious. So go ahead – give it a try! Your taste buds (and stomach) will thank you.

Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) (Pressure Cooker)

Quinoa Pilaf (Upma) (Pressure Cooker) Recipe

Upma is a pilaf preparation from South India. (P.S. Upma is typically mildly spiced and served with coconut chutney or ginger chutney, e.g., recipes #110219, #116586. For more spice, select a chutney which suits your tastes.) This recipe is different from most Upma recipes in using a pressure cooker and quinoa instead of semolina. You can substitute 1-1/4 cup semolina (more traditional) for the quinoa and your choice of chopped seasonal vegetables for the peas. From the Sakthi Foundation ayurvedic recipes: http://www.sakthifoundation.org/kitchen_dinner-2.htm
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Calories 309.6 kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, chopped
  • 10 cashew nuts
  • 1 green chili pepper, sliced in half lengthwise, deseeded (optional)
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 -2 tablespoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt


  • Put all the ingredients into a pressure cooker. Stir once.
  • Cook on medium to medium-high heat.
  • After three whistles, remove from heat.
  • After the pressure reduces (5 to 10 minutes), open.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with chutney.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 294gCalories: 309.6kcalCarbohydrates: 49.8gProtein: 11.5gFat: 7.4gSaturated Fat: 0.9gSodium: 10mgFiber: 7.2gSugar: 3.5g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Asian, Beginner Cook, Easy, Grains, Indian, Inexpensive, Lunch, One-Dish Meal, Pressure Cooker, Stove Top, Vegan
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