Recipe: Risotto of Devon crab


THE St Albans restaurant scene has acquired yet another new level with the arrival of Chez Mumtaj, where managing director and executive chef Chad Rahman is pursuing his dream of introducing to the city what he calls modern Asian fine dining with French overtones. Winner of a number of high profile chef of the year awards for his work at his original St Albans restaurant, Mumtaj, a city fixture for 25 years, Chad is branching out. The setting for Chez Mumtaj is lavish, a large double-fronted former furniture store which has been transformed into a luxurious 100-cover restaurant with additional facilities for private dining. Opened at Easter, it is already turning people away on Saturday nights. The food, seeming familiar at first glance, is determinedly different, as Chad's recipe demonstrates.Risotto of Devon crab with tandoored king prawns, basil and truffle foam and smoked aubergine caviar (serves 6)Risotto base:1 litre shellfish stock 50ml olive oil2 shallots and 2 baby leeks, finely chopped1 clove garlic 1 cup Arborio rice 4tbsp white wine 2 sprigs fresh thymeBring the shellfish stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat olive oil in deep heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, chopped garlic and baby leeks, sweat for 3 mins without letting them brown, add rice and sweat for a further 2 mins. Pour in white wine and simmer until it has reduced to a glaze. Add the hot shellfish stock in batches of 50ml-75ml at a time, bringing to boil each time and allowing to evaporate while stirring continuously. Each stage should take about 3mins. Repeat until rice is nearly cooked but not chalky - about 15mins from first addition of stock. Retain excess stock. Remove risotto from pan, ensuring rice is reasonably dry, spread over a tray and set aside to cool.

Tandoored king prawns:50ml mustard oil12 freshwater king prawns (size 6-8)1tsp Kashmiri mild chilli powder 1tbsp each of garlic paste and Greek yoghurt 2tbsp fresh lemon juice 1tsp each of dry roasted fenugreek powder and turmeric powder tsp garam marsalaDe-shell prawns, leaving the tail part of the shell on. Add all ingredients to prawns and mix well; place aside for 2 hours, then grill prawns in tandoor or oven for 5 mins until tender and juicy.

Basil and truffle foam:250ml shelllfish stock1 cup full fat milk50g stick butter1tbsp each of truffle oil and basil oil salt and pepperPlace remainder of shellfish stock in saucepan, bring to boil and simmer until thick and syrupy and about 50ml in volume. When almost ready to start plating the dish, add butter and milk, truffle paste, truffle oil and seasoning and heat gently. Do not boil. Whisk mixture with hand-held blender to create foam.

Smoked aubergine caviar:2 large Dutch aubergines2 tbsp chopped cilantro1tsp each of dry roasted whole cumin, sweet smoked paprika1tbsp each cottage cheese, mustard oil, finely chopped fresh chives, lemon juice1 Dutch red chilli and 1 banana shallot, each finely choppedPlace aubergines in baking tray with very thin coating of oil and bake at 180C for 45 mins, remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, slice aubergines in half and scoop out flesh, discarding black outer skin. Chop the aubergines and add other ingredients. Mix well. Place in a container and put in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving chilled with risotto.

To serve:100g fresh Devon white crab meat35g grated Parmesan cheese30g stick butter2tsp chopped chivesPlace heavy deep saucepan on stove over medium heat, add risotto, stock and butter. Bring to boil, cook for 2-3mins stirring constantly until rice is tender. Add crabmeat, Parmesan and chives and fold together. Season to taste and place risotto in centre of serving plate. Place two tandoored prawns per person on top of risotto. Using hand blender, agitate the sauce until a cappuccino-like foam appears, then spoon foam around risotto and drizzle basil oil around plate. Place 1 tbsp of the chilled smoked aubergine mix on side of plate.Chez Mumtaj136-142 London Road St Albans AL1 1PQ01727