I Love Peas. Can't get enough of them, they're like caviar in vegetable form when cooked properly. They pop delicately and burst forth fresh spring flavors even in the dead of winter. When placed into a spicy and earthy curry, their subtle flavor somehow becomes the highlight of a bold dish. When I came up with this recipe, I had a mild hangover only a good curry could fix. However, I had no chickpeas, no potatoes, no meat. Just a terrible temper, an onion and some peas....really I was in a quandary. To get my curry-pea fix, I did the only thing that made any kind of sense to my agitated mind: I used risotto as my vehicle.
Risotto is a wonder dish that can morph into many things. The traditional version made with white wine, onion, butter, rice, and parmesean is a great starting place, but once you're comfortable with the basics there are so many other things you can do!
For instance, the following replacements will morph the traditional version into a warm, comforting desert that is perfect eaten in the winter months next to a fire with a glass of hot buttered rum:
Creating a caramel and using boiled milk instead of broth will give you a the richest, creamiest rice pudding imaginable If you add coconut milk and green or red curry paste to the broth, you can make a fabulous Thai inspired risotto. Hmm, I should add those recipes as well at some point.
For this particular version, I did the following to make a generous serving for one:
The Cooking Liquid
3-4 cups water
2 tablespoons garam masala
1/2 cube vegetable boullion (If you have homemade vegetable stock on hand, more power to you-it would be amazing)
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 of a small yellow onion
Dash of Tumeric, Cumin, Coriander, and Cayenne
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup arborio rice
1/3 cup frozen peas (Fresh would be wonderful as well, but never ever ever canned)
White wine (I used a Pinot Grigio-no sweet wine for this recipe, buttery would work best)
Start by combining all of the elements of The Cooking Liquid in a pot and place it on a back burner over medium heat, enough to simmer but not enough to boil.
While the broth is heating up, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy a few sips. Finely chop the onion half and set aside. Combine the Tumeric, Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne, and Garam Masala into a small bowl so they are ready to simply toss in the pan. Measure the Arborio and peas separately and set aside. Grab a measuring cup and set it near the broth to be used as a ladle while cooking. Sip more wine...
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium to medium high heat just until it begins to brown. Throw in the onions and spices, and saute until the onions become translucent At this moment, add your rice and stir to ensure the butter mixture evenly coats the grains. Continue to saute the rice until it just begins to look different, opaque-ish...you'll know it when you see it. Usually between 1-2 minutes Spill some of your wine into the pan to deglaze. (you're cooking for yourself, after all, so don't get squeamish! If you were to prepare this for anyone else I'd advise having some wine set aside, though, for propriety's sake)
Add approximately half of a cup of The Cooking Liquid to The Pan, and simmer. Stir slowly and frequently. Nay, constantly. After the initial liquid cooks down and is absorbed by the rice, add another dose. Continue this process of adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup increments, and allowing it to cook down, until your rice has reached the consistency you desire and you have a nice, thick, creamy sauce. Add the peas, and continue to cook for 2-4 minutes before transferring the entire concoction to a bowl.
Grate Parmesean over the top, if you wish, and enjoy!
Note: Adding a protein to risotto is easily done, just cook it in advance, have it chopped or shredded and on a plate, and add it to the pan when the rice is just prior to your desired consistency. Never add meat too soon or it will overcook and ruin the entire dish.
I've made this several times since the morning of its conception, it never fails to satisfy:-)