It is unfortunate that I have not been able to attend much sessions during ‘The Food Book Club’, mainly because I was travelling for most part of the year or was busy with prior appointments. But this time, I made sure that I would cancel all the appointments and would attend the session with Ranveer Brar, and I am glad I did.
It was interesting to listen to his food stories while he demonstrated his favourite Chocolate Risotto with Spiced Candied Oranges, the recipe of which appears in his book called ‘Come into My Kitchen’ on page 161.
Now Risotto is a creamy, hearty rice dish made with short grained Italian rice. The rice itself is starchy enough to thicken and create its own sauce.
Short grain rice such as Aroborio, Carnaroli, Vialone, Nano or Baldo can be used for making risotto. It comes in various forms and is uually very pale in color, stubby and smooth in texture. Grains range in length from commune, to semifino, fino and superfino, which is the longest. The nature of the grains also varies from region to region. Long grain rice should be avoided. Semi-round risotto rice absorbs liquids and flavours, it releases starch far better that gives risotto its characteristic texture.
Many times that I have dined in any Italian restaurant, I have always had savoury and delicious risotto with most exotic veggies and cheese but today Ranveer was to demonstrate a dessert version, adding chocolate and candied fruit, so this was something new I was to learn.
He did not soak the rice but simply rinsed and started cooking.
He heated butter, added ginger, sautéed a bit then added rice and started gently mixing it, till it room was filled with nutty aroma.
One ladle at a time, he started to pour warm milk allowing the rice to absorb each ladle of milk before adding another ladle again. He described that as meditative way of cooking. He kept stirring till creamy.
While the rice was being cooked, there was lot of discussion on different types of sweet rice made in Indian kitchens, that we are familiar with. I am sure sweet rice is made in many homes (although not risotto) I remember my mom used to make sweet rice during festivals, adding saffron strands and cardamom. (I can still recollect that taste, although I have not had that for a long time) ..sugar is always added last because it retards the cooking time.
Since it was chocolate risotto, he added dark and white grated chocolates, stirred it till it melted and was well combined with the rice.
There are so many ways of making risotto. Till you get a glaze, the rice is not done. You have to keep stirring because risotto that sticks and burns has to be one of the saddest mishaps. It has to be stirred often, but not constantly to release the grains’ natural starches.
Remove from heat and transfer into plate and serve hot. With every minute the taste changes, therefore it should be served immediately.
Recipe as it appears in Ranveer Brar’s book
For the Oranges
6 oranges large
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup water, boiling hot
1 cinnamon stick
2 mace flowers
For the Risotto
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups milk, warm
½ cup dark chocolate, grated
¼ cup white chocolate, grated
For the Oranges
Zest the oranges into thin, long strands, set aside
Then neatly cut out the orange segments
Simmer the zest in boiling water for 2 minutes, then set aside.
Melt the sugar in a wide, heavy-based steel pan on moderate heat
Once the sugar is caramelised to the hazelnut brown, pour the hot water into the pan.
Drop in the blanched shreds of orange zest and spice and leave it to simmer for 5-10 minutes till the zest is translucent.
Pour hot syrup and shred over the orange segments and leave it to cool
For the Risotto.
Heat the butter in the pan
Once it melts, add the chopped ginger and saute for a minute
Add the rice and gently toast till it releases a nutty aroma
Pour in the milk, one ladle at a time allowing it to absorb each ladle
Keep stirring the rice gently till it becomes creamy but the rice grains still have a bite
Gently fold in the grated dark and white chocolates and stir till it melts and is well combined
Remove from heat and set aside
Transfer in pasta plate
Arrange candied oranges over it and place a quenelle of mascarpone on the side. Serve immediately.