Andean Grains: Cañihua
Articles show up month after month advertising superfoods, power foods, the top 10 foods to eat this year and so forth. The delicious grain of quinoa has shown up on these lists for some time now. Of course, it should! Quinoa is a delicious seed, packed with nutrition and delicious in so many wonderful foods.
Closely related to the superfood, Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), is it’s cousin Cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule). The two are similar, yet different. Both are truly seeds although most people think of them as a grain. They are both gluten free and packed with very high levels of nutrition. The Cañihua seed is smaller than that of quinoa. Quinoa is most commonly eaten in the beige variety while Cañihua is found in colored with dark reds and browns, lovely earth colors.
One of the most important differences between Quinoa and Cañihua is that the Quinoa seed must be washed and cleaned of it’s saponin before using it, while the Cañihua is saponin free.
Like Quinoa, the Cañihua plant thrives at high mountain regions, commonly found at 3 800m and 4 300m in Andean areas stretching from Huaraz, Peru to Cochabamba, Bolivia. It is an annual plant that reaches 25 to 70 cm in height.
This seed can be purchased at some Whole Foods and through Amazon in both seed and flour forms. The spelling of the name has been seen a few different ways – it is not just a bad spelling of quinoa as some think!! You may see this grain listed as kaniwa, cañihua in English or qaniwa, cañihua (Peru), canahua (Bolivia) in Spanish.
Interested in tasting Cañihua? Try it as a grain for soup or salad, cooked into a porridge, or toasted and ground into flour for naturally enriched baked goods.
Have you eaten Cañihua? How was it prepared? Did you enjoy it?