Quinoa Tabbouleh With Grilled Cumin Shrimp

Quinoa Tabbouleh With Grilled Cumin Shrimp

The summer I turned 18 years old, I left Dubai for the US to attend college in Texas. I could not wait to start this new chapter of my life, to take this new step in my adulthood and to taste all the freedom that the US promised to deliver. Unfortunately, all my excitement came to a screeching halt once I came face-to-face with dorm food. No one had prepared me for the lack of spices, variety, quality and flavors. I quickly realized that I had been taking the incredible meals I ate back home for granted and I soon set about trying to recreate my favorites in any microwave or kitchen I could borrow. I failed miserably.

I spent most of the school year pining for the Indian and Middle Eastern flavors I grew up with and counted the days till my next visit home. The following summer, my first meal home was my mother’s cumin shrimp curry and my second meal was a platter of hummus, tabbouleh, falafel and shawarma at my favorite Lebanese restaurant. These two meals were also the last meals I ate as I reluctantly made my way back to school at the end of the summer. Over the years, it became a tradition for these meals to start and end my summer vacations at home.

Shrimp With Quinoa

Years later, here I am in the middle of September and, once again, I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer. As I dig my heels in and insist that it’s still summer, I’m reminded of those two meals. My desire for a taste of home inspired me to combine the flavors from each meal to create a new and healthy favorite – quinoa tabbouleh with grilled cumin shrimp.

Tabbouleh Ingredients

Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad made with bulgur, finely chopped parsley, mint, green onions, garlic, tomatoes and seasoned with lemon  juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Traditionally tabbouleh uses very little bulgur and tons of parsley. For this recipe, I opted for the nutty flavor of quinoa instead of bulgur, making this a gluten-free dish as well. I also increased the proportion of the quinoa to parsley since I was craving a heartier dish. Even though quinoa looks like a grain, it’s actually a seed that originates from the spinach family. It’s important to thoroughly rinse the seeds before cooking as they often have a bitter coating.

I wanted to keep the dish light and summery, so instead of the shrimp curry that my mum made, I marinated the shrimp in cumin seeds, cumin powder, a pinch of turmeric and minced garlic before grilling them. The result – the roasted flavors of cumin, sweetness of shrimp, earthy nuttiness of quinoa, crispness of parsley and tartness of lemon were all a success. This makes for a quick healthy summer meal packed with flavor. And yes, it’s still summer in my kitchen.


A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.

Quinoa Uncooked

Rinse quinoa. Add to a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 12 minutes.

Quinoa Cooked

Turn stove off and leave saucepan covered for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Alternatively, follow directions on package of quinoa.

Chopped Ingredients For Tabbouleh

Add chopped parsley, scallions, mint, radishes and tomatoes to a large mixing bowl.

Lemon And Oilve Oil Dressing

Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic to a small mixing bowl. Whip the mixture using a fork to make the dressing.

Tabbouleh Ingredients With Lemon And Olive Oil

Add dressing to the large mixing bowl with the parsley mixture and stir.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Gently add the cooled cooked quinoa to the large mixing bowl and stir. Cover and set aside.

Shrimp With Cumin, Garlic and Turmeric

Peel, devein and rinse the shrimp. Add shrimp, cumin seeds and powder, turmeric, garlic, salt and oil to a mixing bowl and stir till all the shrimp are covered. Set aside to marinate for a few minutes.

Grilled Cumin Shrimp

Heat the grill or a sautee pan on a medium flame. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Take off of the heat. TIP: Do not stir or flip the shrimp until each of the 3 minutes is up. This allows the shrimp to get evenly cooked and have a good sear.

Grilled Cumin Shrimp With Quinoa Tabbouleh

Serve a plate of quinoa tabbouleh topped with the grilled cumin shrimp.

Perfect Morsel of Quinoa Tabbouleh and Cumin Shrimp

A Perfect Morsel with just the right amount of parsley, radish, tomato, mint, garlic, quinoa and cumin shrimp.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Number of servings: 4


  1. Neena says

    I can’t tell you how it touches the very core of my heart when you reminisce -mum’s cooking for all ,my child ,is always the best ! Glad and grateful we could enjoy those culinary pleasures.
    A delicious superfood, a blend of two cultural cuisines and my Anj’s gourmet touch ,it can only be
    Whoa ! At its best -Quinoa!

  2. sylvia says

    Anjali, Amazing! i am definitely going to try and make this recipe and hopefully it will look as beautiful too.i was literally drooling as i read it and the pictures are beautiful. it looks quick and easy to make which is perfect for me.

    • says

      Hi Sylvia, Thank you for your sweet words. I’m so happy to hear that you’ll try this recipe. If it made you drool – mission accomplished! I bet it’ll look beautiful since quinoa is such a pretty grain. Have a scrumptious day!

  3. Elena says

    Anjali, this looks divine! \(^^)/ My husband just had to start an IBS diet, and I’ve been working hard to make good meals for him. You recipe is perfect! GF and IBS-friendly. I am gonna cook it tomorrow for our Christmas lunch. Can’t wait to see this yummy beauty on our table. :)

    • says

      Hi Elena! I’m so happy that you like this recipe. It’s one of my favorites. Hope you had a lovely Christmas lunch. Let me know how it turned out!

      • says

        Oh, it was great. We had a small lunch with your wonderful quinoa and shrimp, plus a Russian herring-under-a-fur-coat salad. I couldn’t find quinoa at the store at first. At Hannaford, they sell them by weight in the nuts section. But, now we eat a bunch of it. The latest one was with eggplant, basil, tomatoes, and cottage cheese on top. :)

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