12 April 2013

Tomato rice, South Indian style!

Hi, dear friends! My sincere apologies that things have been sooo quiet around here! I really can't believe that it's now been over 2 months without a single post. Let's just say that life has been keeping me very busy (and a bit tired) as of late! And another reason for the silence...my parents were in town, with my mom staying in total for about a month. She took over the kitchen, so I basically didn't do any cooking at all! Though I missed concocting new dishes and sharing them with all of you, I definitely wasn't complaining eating all of her yummy food. Case in point: the classic South Indian tomato rice (known in Tamil as thakkali sadham), one of my all-time favorites, a simple and delicious example of comfort food that you all must try! Like other South Indian prepared rice dishes such as lemon, tamarind or yogurt rice, it's absolutely delicious!

This is the ultimate lunchbox dish, making its way into tiffin carriers across India along with a dry vegetable curry of some sort, a papad and often another rice dish such as yogurt rice (thayir sadham). Given its portability, it's perfect to take on a picnic or wrapped up in banana leaves for a train journey (I have a vague memory of enjoying it in this way while on a trip as a kid). When eating my mom's tomato rice this time around, I got to thinking that many cultures have a version of tomato rice...everything from Mexican rice to the Turkish bulgur pilaf made with tomato to tomatoey versions of Italian risotto. Not surprisingly, I love them all...probably because they remind me of South Indian tomato rice! Though this dish is perfection as is, I might try to make it with bulgur or quinoa or another whole grain sometime for additional fiber. Will let you know how that comes out, but in the meanwhile make this classic South Indian tomato rice ASAP!

Serves 3-4 along with a vegetable curry and other rice dish

1 cup long-grain rice (preferably Basmati or jasmine)
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon broken cashew pieces
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped
2 big or 6 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt, to taste
Fresh chopped coriander, for garnish

1. Cook the rice, ensuring that the grains are separate and not sticky. After the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork and leave it open in order to cool off, fluffing it a bit more every now and then.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it is warm, add the cumin seeds. After they begin to pop and become fragrant, add the cashew pieces. When the cashews become golden, add the onions and saute until translucent.

3. At this point, add the ginger and saute a bit more, followed by the tomatoes. Mix well and saute. Mash the tomatoes slightly with the back of your cooking spoon.

4. Add all of the spices and saute the mixture well until it forms a thick paste. Add salt to taste and coriander and mix well, removing from heat.

5. Mix together your tomato mixture along with the cooked rice. Make sure that the rice is well-mixed, with the tomato mixture coating every grain. Add more salt and/or a bit of oil, if needed.


  1. Yes..I was also very busy, but it is good to be back sometimes after a very busy period :)

    I like this rice. I don't think I tried it, it would probably taste nice with my salmon I am planning to make. I am sure even alone it tastes great.

  2. True, I never thought about it, but almost every type of cuisine has a tomato-and-rice dish. Very cool. This one looks great!

  3. Glad to have you back! And I hope you got some much needed rest! :D Hugs from DC!

  4. Very delicious! I love recipes like this and usually get great ideas from Tilda Basmati http://www.tilda.com/public-recipe-category/dry

  5. This looks fantastic. I love rice and tomatoes, and the spices seem like they would add a lovely aroma.