Risotto repast

Risotto with Scampi

I have this friend who is passionately fond of prawns. I thought I’d do a prawn recipe for her and settled on a prawn risotto that I rather like making. Well, it really ought to be a seafood risotto, with some lobster, clams and mussels thrown in as well. But risotto with prawns – whether scampi or even some biggish shrimps – is just as yummy. In fact, to some it may taste even better, for clams and mussels are a bit of an acquired taste.

My first brush with risotto was tragic, though. It was years ago, in Rome. I was an impecunious young journo, travelling on a shoestring and staying in a grotty little bed and breakfast off the magnificent Via Nazionale. When dinner time approached, I headed into one of those roadside trattorias jam-packed with tourists. I waited patiently for a table. The prospect of sitting al fresco and digging into Italian cuisine while being attended by dishy looking Italian waiters seemed wildly appealing. I had read about the risotto, but had never sampled it, and this seemed to be the perfect place to do it.

It turned out that I’d have done better if I’d concentrated on the waiters. The risotto arrived – I had ordered one with asparagus – and it was stunningly bad: a gooey, unpalatable mess with shards of asparagus poking out of it! Alas, I had not yet discovered The Lonely Planet and its fail-safe food mantra – eat where the locals do and avoid the touristy joints; they specialise in overpriced, bad food.

Anyway, after I came back from holiday, I scouted around for risotto recipes and began to make the dish regularly. Those days – I am talking about the late 1990s – you couldn’t get Arborio rice in Calcutta, nor Parmesan cheese. So I made my risotto with basmati rice and Amul cheese! Not authentic, no, but it definitely tasted better than the stuff I had on my Roman Holiday.

Fortunately, all the ingredients needed for a classic risotto are now readily available in India. So here goes.

Risotto with Scampi
(Serves 4)

2 cups Arborio rice
1 small onion chopped fine
75g butter
A glass of white wine
4 cups chicken or fish stock
1kg scampi
50g butter
Juice of one lime
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley to garnish

Melt 75g of butter in a pan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion becomes transparent. Add the Arborio rice (I always wash it first though few Western recipes will ask you to) and fry it for a couple of minutes. Now add the wine.  Let it simmer until the wine gets absorbed into the rice. Add half the stock and bring to boil. Then reduce the heat and cover the pan. You have to check the rice from time to time and keep adding the rest of the stock a little bit at a time. Keep tasting it as well. The rice should have a slightly nutty flavour and a moist feel to it once it’s done. You could add a pinch of salt at some stage. I do, though many recipes don’t call for it. Once the risotto is done, add some freshly grated Parmesan to it.

Keep the risotto hot while you cook the scampi. Melt 50g of butter in a pan and fry the scampi until it takes on that beautiful coral colour and is cooked through. Add the lime juice, salt and freshly milled pepper.
Now place the risotto on a serving dish and top it with the scampi and the cooking juices. Add some more grated Parmesan if you like and garnish with chopped parsley.


  1. sounds terrific - risotto and margaritas - here i come, Shuma

  2. Pasta at last! Looks scrumptious. Most certainly going to try it. shall report back to you!

  3. Fun read! Have shared it on my FB wall!


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