I grew up eating phulkas/chapatis every day for lunch, since it was so much easier to carry to school and work. Mom, born and brought up in Chennai, is definitely a rice eater and while she continues to have chapatis for one meal for health reasons, she is most happy with a plate of rice before her. For the longest time I vehemently believed I was not a rice eater. Turns out, that while I do love phulkas, when I haven't had rice for sometime, I hanker for it.
Just about the time I was noticing this, I also figured that my tummy was perfectly fine when I travelled abroad - so I pin pointed the difference down to the chapatis that I have for lunch every day when I'm home. Too much fibre for my digestive system (which struggles with any kind of fibre - just found I can't tolerate soy milk as well !). So, I sadly parted with the daily chapatis and now struggle to finish my rice, which I find makes me drowsy in the afternoons. I am currently experimenting with less rice and more veggies, but since I lose weight so rapidly, I need to keep up my carb intake and so try to alternate with pasta and sandwiches twice a week - yes, we skinny types have our problems too, Thank you very much!
Anyway, so why do I say I love rice? because my eyes light up when I see a steaming bowl of khichdi. my ears perk up when I hear of a nice biryani joint. Sunday afternoons are almost always rice based meals - all the better to have nice nap after. I dream of the sticky rice at Monk - a great Chinese restaurant in the Galaxy Hotel, Gurgaon. And, as my good friends have pointed out to me, I love ordering a risotto when I go out to a nice Italian restaurant.
Now this may also be because I have become instinctively aware of what rests easier on my stomach and so automatically gravitate towards it. Or maybe because there is something so alluring about a well made risotto - where each grain of rice is cooked just so. Not too little so that its crunchy and not too much so that it becomes a soggy mess. The creaminess of the stock and the starch melding to make a wholesome, satsifying dish - the subtle flavours of the herbs or mushroom or cheese making it such a good meal. And since it does take a bit of elbow grease and patience to turn it out at home, why not make the most of having it when you are out!
A couple of Sundays back, I pulled out the pack of Arborio rice which had been sitting in my cupboard for too long, determined to have risotto for lunch. Out came my (now) fav cookbook - Nigella Express, where I remembered seeing a cheese risotto and adapted the recipe to include mushrooms in it. The risotto was topped with some sharp cheddar cheese and was just perfect for our afternoon meal - one of our first winter meals in fact.
The important thing to remember about risottos is to keep stirring it gently, without being brisk and rough and breaking the grains of rice; also make sure the stock is warm all the time. Keep adding the stock one ladle at a time just as the earlier one gets absorbed; take it off the heat while the dish is still creamy and serve immediately so that it doesn't dry out.
Creamy Mushroom Risotto
1 cup arborio rice
1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion sliced thin
6-7 mushrooms, sliced thin
1/3 cup white wine
1 tsp mustard
3 cups hot vegetable stock
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1. Heat the pan and add the butter, when it melts add the oil. saute the onions till transluscent
2. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute till it releases water, drain the water into the hot stock. Add the rice and saute 2 minutes.
3. Add the white wine and the mustard and stir till wine is absorbed.
4. Add the hot stock one ladle at a time and stir when it is absorbed fully before putting in the next ladle of stock. Continue in this way - it took me almost half an hour before the rice was cooked - no overcooking till it is mushy, so it might feel like it still has a bite to it when you taste it.
5. Add the grated cheese along with a dash of freshly ground pepper.
6. Ladle straight into warmed plates, still stirring and eat immediately.