Except what showed up was rice in tomato sauce with tons of chili. It was so spicy that no one could have eaten it. But I put a brave face on and kept on nibbling at it. I now wonder why (I was a big one for keeping up appearances back then). That was until a fellow diner asked to taste it and pronounced it inedible.
Soon thereafter, I discovered the creamy, mushroom and cheese laden risottos and the tomato version dropped off the radar. It resurfaced some 3 years back in Goa, when I ordered tomato and garlic risotto as my comfort meal after a day spent at the beaches and an evening at Goa's popular nightspots. It hit home with the right blend of flavors, and I've been craving the taste ever since.
So that's what this risotto is - recreated from the memories of that dinner in Goa. I couldn't find a recipe to fit what I was looking for so I created a variation on my pasta recipe.
First off, chop two tomatoes and half of a small red pepper. Put this in a blender with a tsp of dried oregano. Defrost 1 1/2 cup of mushroom stock sitting in your freezer and pour 1/4 cup into the blender. Blend everything to a smooth paste.
Separately, chop one small onion finely. Peel and mince 2-3 garlic cloves. Heat the stock and bring it to a simmer.
Pour a tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, followed a few seconds later by onion. Stir for a minute, then add 1/2 cup arborio rice. Stir to coat the rice with oil. At this stage of risotto making, I usually add white wine. But I didn't have any in the fridge today, so I added 1/4 cup of red wine instead. Stir it around until it all evaporates, then add the tomato and pepper paste. Let it cook, stirring often. A few minutes later, add a ladleful of stock. Keep adding more stock, a little at a time as the previous additions get absorbed.
Start checking your rice after 15 minutes or so before you add any more stock. You are looking for rice to get cooked but still retain a little bite. When the rice is done, add a tbsp of butter, mix it in and take the risotto off the heat. Top with basil cut into thin strips and a sprinkle of parmesan, or any cheese you like.