Tomato rice is a simple, spicy, flavorful & delicious one pot dish made with rice, tomatoes, spices & herbs. This tomato rice can be made in a pressure cooker or a pot. If you are looking to use up left over or precooked white rice, then you can make tomato rice just under 20 mins following this Thakkali sadam recipe.
Tomato rice can be served with out any sides as it is very flavorful & tasty on its own. However some vegetable salad, curd, raita or papad will complement your meal. To make it kids’ friendly, you can puree the tomatoes and use.
If you are new to Indian cuisine, read on to know
What is tomato rice?
Tomato rice is a simple south Indian rice dish made with lots of tomatoes & spices. It is not a traditional dish so each home or region has their own way of making it.
As the name indicates this tomato rice is made using tomatoes alone and no vegetables are used except onion. But you can use any veggies like peas, potatoes etc and even soya chunks or boiled egg goes well.
Methods to make
This south Indian tomato rice can be made in a pressure cooker, in a regular pot or in instant pot. I have shared all the methods here.
I have shown making tomato rice in pressure cooker in the step by step method. In the video I have shown making it in a pot. I have also included instructions for instant pot method after the recipe card.
Rice: Rinse rice well a few times to get rid of the starch. Soak it well for at least 30 mins. These 2 steps will prevent the tomato rice from turning mushy & sticky. You can use any kind of rice you have in hand.
South Indian tomato rice is actually made with short grain rice but I have used basmati.
Water: Rice to water ratio is very important to cook up the rice to fluffy & nonsticky. Here are the ratios for basmati rice.
For 1½ cups basmati rice
2 ½ cups water for pressure cooker
3 cups for regular pot
2 cups for instant pot
Spices: I have used some whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, jeera and cardamoms. You can just skip what ever you do not have.
Tomato rice with precooked rice
If you prefer to use up precooked rice, here are the brief instructions. For detailed steps do check this thakkali sadam recipe
Follow the steps from 2 to 9 in the recipe card. Set aside some of this masala. Then just add cooled cooked rice to it. Mix well and if needed add more masala.
Tomato rice recipe
Tomato rice recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 2 tbsps oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion (chopped or sliced)
- 1 green chili (slit, optional)
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste or crushed
- 1 cup tomatoes (2 to 3 medium sized) (chopped or pureed)
- Salt as needed
- 2 ½ cups Water for cooker , 3 cups for pot & 1¾ cups for instant pot
- 3 tbsp Coriander leaves or cilantro finely chopped
- Lemon juice (optional)
- 12 whole cashewnuts (split & use) (optional)
- ¾ to 1 tsp garam masala powder or curry powder
- ½ to 1 tsp red chili powder or paprika (reduce for less spicy)
- ¼ tsp Turmeric or haldi
whole spices (skip if you don't have)
- 1 small bay leaf or tej patta or curry leaves
- ¾ tsp cumin or jeera
- 1 small cinnamon piece or dalchini
- 4 green cardamoms or elaichi
- 4 cloves or laung (optional)
- ¼ tsp pepper crushed (optional)
How to make the recipe
- Add 1½ cup rice to a bowl and rinse it well a few times until the water runs clear. Pour fresh water and soak the rice for 30 mins. Then drain to a colander & set aside.
- Heat a pressure cooker or a pot with 2 tbsps ghee or oil.
- Add 12 cashews and fry until golden. Remove to a plate & set aside.
- Saute 4 cloves, 1 small cinnamon piece, ¾ tsp cumin, 4 green cardamoms, ¼ tsp crushed pepper and 1 small bay leaf.
- When they begin to crackle, add 1 finely chopped onion and 1 slit green chili.
- Saute until the onions turn golden. Next saute 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste until a nice aroma comes out for 30 seconds.
- Next add in 1 cup tomatoes, salt as needed and ¼ tsp turmeric.
- Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover & cook until the tomatoes break down & turn mushy.
- Add ½ to 1 tsp red chili powder and ¾ to 1 tsp garam masala powder.
- Mix and cook until the tomato masala turns completely soft and mushy.
- At this stage the masala leaves the sides of the pan. Pour water & stir well. Taste the water and add more salt if needed.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the drained rice.
Making tomato rice in a pot
- Cook until the water has almost absorbed. When the rice is still soggy, lower the flame completely and cover with a lid until the tomato rice is cooked completely.
- Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and squeeze in some lemon juice. Tomato rice is ready to serve hot or warm with a raita. Garnish with cashews.
Making tomato rice in a pressure cooker
- Stir and cover with the lid. Cook on a medium high heat. Allow to whistle once. When the pressure goes down, open the lid. Fluff up the tomato rice.
Instant pot tomato rice
- Press SAUTE button & pour oil to the inner pot of the instant pot. Then fry cashews until golden and remove them. Stir in the whole spices and then add onions.
- Saute them until transparent. Add the ginger garlic paste & saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt. Saute them until the tomatoes break down and turn mushy.
- Add chilli powder, garam masala & turmeric. Saute for just 1 to 2 mins until
the moisture from tomatoes almost dries up.
- Next pour water. Press CANCEL button. Scrape off any bits of spices stuck at the bottom. This prevents from getting a burn notice.
- Stir & check the salt. Add more if needed. Then add the rice. Then secure the
lid. Set the steam release handle/ value to sealing. Press PRESSURE COOK button (high
pressure) for 5 mins.
- When the tomato rice is done, Instant pot beeps. Wait for 2 mins & release the pressure manually with the help of a spoon by moving the steam release handle to venting from sealing. If you like softer rice then let the pressure release naturally for 7 to 8 mins. Then release the rest manually.
- Sprinkle coriander leaves & fluff up the tomato rice with a fork. Garnish with cashews.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
For normal rice, you will need more.
Use water as needed depending on the kind of rice used.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
1. Wash rice very well a few times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice if you wish until the preparation is done. Drain the rice and set aside.
2. Wash and slice onions thinly or chop them. Also slit green chili. Rinse & chop or puree tomatoes. You can also deseed them before chopping.
3. Grate the ginger or ginger garlic or make a paste.
How to make tomato rice
4. Add ghee or oil to a hot pressure cooker or a pot. On a low heat, saute cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and cumin until they begin to crackle.
5. Add chopped or sliced onions and begin to saute them.
6. When the onions turn golden, saute ginger paste just for few seconds.
7. Add tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Saute for 2 to 3 mins.
8. Next cover and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy. Add red chili powder, pepper powder, garam masala. I used this garam masala along with half tsp of saunf powder.
9. Saute until the tomato masala turns soft and mushy. There should be no raw smell of tomatoes by now and the masala leaves the sides of the pan.
10. Pour water and Stir it well. Check and add more salt if needed. Bring it to a rolling boil.
11. Add drained rice.
12. Mix well. Next when the water comes to a boil. Cover with a lid. Cook on a medium heat & allow to whistle once.
13. When the pressure settles down, open the lid and fluff up the tomato rice. If you like the rice to be al dente, do not allow the pressure to come down on its own. When the cooker is still with pressure, release it by lifting the whistle with a wooden spatula. Allow to rest for 5 mins.
Fluff up the tomato rice with a fork. If desired you can squeeze in some lemon juice and add coriander leaves before you fluff up.
Serve tomato rice with onion slices or veg salad or raita.