Red rice & mung bean risotto

Preparation info

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    as a main

Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

One of my favourite rice varieties is Bhutanese red rice. I encourage you to try it, if you can find it. It has a glorious nutty flavour, with earthy tones that pair so beautifully with other flavours. Highly valued for its antioxidant properties, it is also nutrient dense, with higher values of phosphorus, magnesium and molybdenum than other rices. Short or medium-grain brown rice works well in this dish, too.

Any leftover risotto will keep in the fridge for several days, and the flavours will only deepen. You can make a subcontinental ‘arancini’ by rolling the risotto into balls, filling the centres with cheese, crumbing them and deep-frying until crisp.

Preparation 20 minutes + 20 minutes soaking
Cooking 40 minutes


  • 210 g ( oz/1 cup) Bhutanese red rice
  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) dried green mung beans (moong dhal)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) virgin coconut oil
  • 360 g (12¾ oz/4 cups) chopped fresh wild mushrooms, or whatever type you like
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or a few thyme sprigs
  • 1.25 litres (44 fl oz/5 cups) coconut water or vegetable stock
  • 60 g ( oz) unsalted butter
  • 35 g ( oz/ cup) finely chopped French or red Asian shallot
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) dry rosé or white wine
  • 200 g (7 oz) baby English spinach leaves
  • 70 g ( oz/¾ cup) grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve


Wash the rice and mung beans twice in cold water, then drain the water off. Place the rice and mung beans in a heatproof bowl and pour 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) boiling-hot water over them. Leave to soak for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Toss in the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, a sprinkling of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and have released their liquid. Set the mushrooms aside, pouring off any excess cooking liquid.

In a large saucepan, heat the coconut water or stock. Adjust the heat to keep it just below a simmer while cooking the risotto.

Drain the rice and mung beans, reserving the soaking liquid and adding it to the pan of warm coconut water or stock.

In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the shallot and cook for 1–2 minutes, until slightly translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with the warm fats. After 2 minutes, stir in the wine and cook for 1–2 minutes, until mostly absorbed or evaporated.

Next, add a ladleful of the warm broth to the pan, and let the rice cook and absorb most of the liquid. Add enough broth to lightly cover the rice and adjust the heat to keep a hearty simmer going. Stir regularly, adding ladlefuls of broth every few minutes to ensure the rice is always under a thin layer of broth. Continue cooking for a total of 30–40 minutes, or until the rice is plump and cooked through, but still has a toothsome quality.

Turn the heat to low and stir in the sautéed mushrooms, along with the spinach and one last ladleful of broth. Season generously with salt. Cover the pan for a few minutes, to wilt the spinach, then turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan, the remaining butter, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and stand for a final 5 minutes for the flavours to come together. Serve scattered with extra parmesan.