Risotto is a wonderful & creamy Italian rice dish traditionally made with a starchy, short grain variety of rice known as Arborio rice. Since Basmati will just not work well in this dish, I have opted to use Arborio instead. You can also make great risotto with other Italian rice varieties such as Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. All of these Italian rice varieties are available in most large supermarkets or specialty food shops.
Coconuts are widely used in Indian cuisine, especially in South Indian and the coastal states where they grow in great abundance. Technically, coconuts are not real botanical nuts but are actually fruit. Once thought to be high in cholesterol & saturated fats, the scientific community has recently retracted this absurd notion and is now in total agreement that the health benefits of coconut are quite numerous. A diet rich in coconuts is helpful in the fight against high cholesterol, heart disease & certain types of cancer. Coconuts are always a good source of antioxidants, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and B-complex vitamins. Coconuts are also thought to be very good for digestion & aid in natural weight loss by increasing one’s metabolism.
Since I love risotto & I also love coconuts – this dish was a total no brainer. So combining my love for these 2 things in a delicious one pot dish just seemed right on every culinary level. So go ahead & give my Spicy Coconutty Risotto a try, I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does ☺.
SPICY COCONUTTY RISOTTO
4½+ cups vegetable stock
1¼ cups coconut milk
2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
2-3 large shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
1-2 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
5-6 fresh curry leaves
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup green peas (frozen is fine, just thaw before use)
1 tbsp ghee or butter
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted for garnish
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a small soup pot on high heat, bring the vegetable stock & the coconut milk to a gentle boil and allow to simmer. You will need this warm stock while you are making the risotto, so keep it warm & handy.
In another large deep pot on medium high heat, add the coconut oil. When hot, add the shallots along with the garlic, ginger, green chilies & curry leaves. Sauté until the shallots have just softened & then add in the spices (ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, salt & pepper). Let the spices fry for about a minute until fragrant.
Next, add the Arborio rice & mix well to combine. Let the rice toast for a few minutes until nutty & fragrant. Then add 1 cup of the hot stock/coconut mil mixture & stir into the rice. They key to a good risotto is just stirring to make sure that the vegetable stock/coconut milk mixture is evenly absorbed by all of the rice grains. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ½ cup of stock/coconut milk mixture & repeat. This process is a little tedious but well worth the results. If you happen to run out of vegetable stock, simply add warm water. After about 30 minutes or so, the rice should be creamy & just tender. At this point, add in the green peas & let cook for another 5-6 minutes. When the rice is fully cooked & the green peas are tender – simply finish the dish with a little drizzle of ghee & some freshly grated nutmeg. Garnish with the toasted coconut flakes, sliced almonds & cilantro leaves. Serve as a complete vegetarian meal or alongside some grilled chicken or seafood.
Feel free to use your favorite vegetables in this dish such as tender young asparagus, mushrooms, green beans, roasted red bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, baby corn/corn kernels, sweet potatoes, baby spinach leaves, broccoli florets, pumpkin, butternut/acorn squash…..