Try this easy South Indian Tomato Rice Recipe with a step-by-step picture tutorial so you can see how it is done. Hearty and comforting and full of lovely warming spices, this Spicy Tomato Rice can be eaten almost straight out of the pot. Vegan and gluten-free.
My newest foodie love is South Indian Tomato Rice. It was warm, comforting, tangy and full of some of my favourite spices.
What Is Tomato Rice?
As you would have already worked out from the name, the base of this Spicy Tomato Rice dish is tomatoes and rice. And I think the reason why I love this is that it is very, very similar to one of my favourite dishes aka African Jollof Rice, the biggest difference between the two being the spices that are used.
One of my besties loves food and thinks nothing of dragging me along to places I did not even know existed to hunt down the best of the best foodie joints around. There is head shaking and hands throwing when the food is not as good as expected, there is silence, big grins and happy tapping when the food is right.
And it was during one such adventure that I came across Indian Tomato Rice (also known as Tomato Bath, Tomato Pulao and Thakkali Sadam). I could not get enough of it and rushed off home to try and make it myself. Since then I have spent my time testing out various versions of it and I find it immensely adaptable adding different spices depending on what I am in the mood for.
How To Make Tomato Rice
Basically, this rice is cooked in an Indian Spiced Tomato Sauce. Cooking time for this is only actually about 40 mins. Most of which involve the tomato sauce or the rice actually cooking so you don’t have to do that much. In fact, you can easily sit down and treat yourself to some chai tea whilst you wait.
I have made this version easier by using curry and garam masala powder instead of all the individual spices that are used, as I know that lots of people have these two powders to hand in their pantry. I will add the selection of spices that people use in the recipe notes for those of you who want it.
- Step 1. Soak the rice to remove some of the starch.
- Step 2. Then you fry the seeds till popped, follow by the onions till soft.
- Step 3. Then you fry the seeds till popped, follow by the onions till soft.
- Step 4. Then add the tomatoes and remaining spices and cook for a few mins to a fragrant tomato sauce.
- Step 5. Then add the rice, stir till coated and add the hot water, season, cover and cook.
- Step 6. Then add the rice, stir till coated and add the hot water, season, cover and cook.
That is it!!
How To Prepare Tomato Rice In A Pressure Cooker
To prepare the Tomato Rice in a pressure cooker, simply cook the Tomato Rice as normal in the pot of the pressure cooker with the lid uncovered up until where you add the rice and the water. After mixing and bringing to the boil, you cover the pressure cooker and add the whistle.
Cook for about 10-12 mins (approximately 2 whistles). If you want your rice to be slightly softer then cook for a further 4 to five mins. Remove from the heat, let the pressure reduce down and open the lid and serve.
Spicy Tomato Rice Recipe
To make your Spicy Tomato Rice have a bit more heat, add some chilli to your taste, along with the onions at the start. I go easy on the chilli as I know that the kids (and some of our dinner guests) don’t like as much chilli. And whilst you are adapting this recipe, feel free to add some more garlic, ginger and cumin seeds during cooking. You can add fresh coriander (cilantro) during cooking too.
Tomato Rice With Coconut Milk
You can easily make Tomato Rice with coconut milk by replacing some of the cooking water with coconut milk. This will result in a rice with a richer more exotic flavour. This Tomato Biriyani is a great brunch or lunchbox option. It is good enough to eat just by itself.
Serving Your South Indian Tomato Rice
This is best served hot and is good enough to serve on its own since it is so full of flavour.
What Goes With Tomato Rice
Here are a few suggestions of what to serve with Tomato Rice.
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken (if not vegan).
Quick flatbreads, with fresh chopped coriander and yoghurt.
For More Rice Recipes
And if you like this recipe why don’t you check out my
Thank you for reading my Vegan Tomato Rice recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
Originally published Nov 2017.
Get The Spicy Tomato Rice Recipe
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- 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods spilt
- 0.25 tsp cloves
- 15 curry leaves
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 0/75 tsp curry powder
- 0.75 tsp garam masala
- 200 g (7oz) chopped tomatoes
- 180 g (1 cup) long grain basmati rice soaked for 20 mins
- 420 ml (1.75 cup) water
- Heat a pot over medium heat and add the mustard seeds and cover. Cook until the mustard seeds start to pop.
- Add the oil, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, curry leaves and onion and sauté for about 5 mins until the onion are soft.
- Then stir in the garlic and ginger, fry for 30 seconds followed by the rest of the spices and tomatoes. Mix well and let cook for up to 10 mins until it forms a fragrant and thick tomato paste.
- Drain the rice and add it to the pot along with the water, season and mix.
- From here you can do 2 things.
- Either transfer the entire mixture to you rice cooker and cook until done.
- Or leave in the pot, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 mins until done.
- Fluff up the rice, top with some fresh herbs and serve by itself or with chutneys and curries.