My first taste of red rice coincided with my last evening on the island of Bali. Sulking at the end of my week-long holiday, we made our way to watch the stunning sunset at Jimbaran beach and ordered an early dinner. Since this was nearly four years ago, my memory fails me in being able to recall the exact details of our dinner, but I remember that the rice accompanied the juiciest prawns in an almost dry-ish preparation. I say dry, because I’m so accustomed to eating rice drowned in curry that it took me a few bites to start enjoying the two together. The nutty flavour of the rice paired with that of the ocean – simply unprecedented!
But of course, one doesn’t have to travel all the way to Bali to find red rice, a mere stroll to your nearest supermarket will help you get hold of a bagful. My hunt to find the most apt recipe to introduce red rice to our dinner table concluded with this Red Rice Risotto that I found on goop. Much like Nigella Lawson’s claims in Nigellissima, my Red Rice Risotto isn’t “authentically Italian, but authentic they are (it is) nonetheless.” My aberrations being, firstly, the use of red rice as opposed to the traditional Carnaroli or Arborio, and secondly, in the technique that requires one to cover the pan that cooks the risotto, with a lid. The latter is quite essential if you don’t want to spend the better part of your day by the stove waiting for red rice to cook in this avatar. Soaking the rice in water for at least 4 hours before you get down to cooking, is absolutely necessary to help with the cooking time. A quick Google search will give you all the run down on the health benefits of red rice, but I’m here to just harp on this unusual fusion of ingredients and cooking techniques. Wine and vegetable stock – these are the usual suspects of risotto-making. The mushrooms add a bit of bite and the addition of a handful of spinach leaves in the last couple of minutes of cooking is the final punch and sealing of flavours. The flavours are familiar risotto flavours, with the added nutty edge of red rice!
Serves 2 to 3.