Tomato Rice is a simple, spicy, flavorful & delicious one pot Indian dish made with rice, ripe tomatoes, spices & herbs. This tomato rice can be made in a stovetop pressure cooker, Instant pot, electric rice cooker or even in a regular pot. If you are looking to use up left over or precooked white rice, you can make tomato rice just under 20 mins following this Thakkali sadam recipe. This Tomato rice can be served with out any sides as it is very flavorful & tasty on its own.
If you are new to Indian cuisine, read on to know
About Tomato Rice
Tomato Rice is a simple South Indian meal where rice is cooked with lots of tomatoes, fresh herbs, whole spices & ground spices. It tastes simply delicious, aromatic and makes for a quick meal option any time of the year.
It is not a traditional dish so each Indian home and region has a different way of making it. You will come across Tomato rice in a lot of South Indian restaurants and budget eateries. Every place serves a different tasting dish and is served with papads and Onion Raita.
As the name indicates my tomato rice is made using tomatoes alone and no vegetables are used except onion. But you can use any veggies like peas, potatoes etc. to perk up the nutrition. On Occasions I even add some softened and marinated soya chunks or boiled egg to add some protein to the dish.
Methods to make
This South Indian tomato rice can be made in a stovetop pressure cooker, in a regular pot or in instant pot. If you have an electric cooker you can use that as well. I have shared all the methods here.
I have shown making tomato rice in the stovetop 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 in the recipe card. To make it in a rice cooker, check the Faq section below.
Fantastic Tip: Here is a fantastic tip from a reader in the comments. Make a large batch of tomato masala and freeze it in the ice trays. Once set remove and store in zip lock bags. When you want to make instant tomato rice, simply add some of the cubes to the rice cooker. Your hands free tomato rice is ready with almost minimum effort.
How to Make Tomato Rice (stepwise photos)
1. Wash 1½ cups rice very well a few times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice if you wish until the preparation is done. Later drain the rice completely and set aside.
2. Wash and slice 1 medium onion thinly or chop them. Also slit 1 green chili (optional). Rinse & chop or puree 2 to 3 medium tomatoes. I use about 1 cup chopped tomatoes (200 grams). You can also deseed them before chopping.
3. Grate or crush half inch ginger & 2 garlic cloves to make 1 tablespoon paste. Set aside. Optional– Split 12 cashew nuts and set aside.
Make Tomato Rice
4. Add 2 tablespoons ghee or oil to a hot pressure cooker or a pot. Add cashews and fry them until golden and crisp. Remove to a plate. Regulate the flame to low. Add 1 inch cinnamon, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf, 3 cardamoms and ¾ teaspoon cumin. If you do not have bay leaf you can use curry leaves. If you do not have all of these whole spices, just skip them.
5. Add 1 medium chopped or sliced onions and green chilies. Begin to saute them. Skip green chilli if you have kids home.
6. When the onions turn golden, saute 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste just for few seconds.
7. Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon salt. Saute for 2 to 3 mins.
8. Next cover and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder and ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala. I used this garam masala along with half tsp of fennel powder. If you have kids home cut down the chilli powder to half teaspoon.
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 2½ cups water if making in pressure cooker and Stir it well. Check and add more salt if needed. Bring it to a rolling boil. If cooking in a pot pour 3 cups.
11. Add drained rice.
12. Mix well. Cover with a lid. Cook on a medium heat & allow to whistle once. If cooking in a pot, cook on a low heat until all the water is absorbed & the rice is done.
13. When the pressure releases naturally, 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. When the temperature comes down a bit, can squeeze in some lemon juice and add coriander leaves. Garnish with fried cashew nuts. Serve tomato rice with onion slices or veg salad or raita.
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.
Finish the tempering and sautéing of tomatoes in a pan and transfer it to the rice cooker with drained rice and water. Cook the same way as you would cook your regular rice.
Yes. Skip them but use a good garam masala to make the dish. Mush of the flavor comes from the ground spices in this recipe. So ensure you use a good aromatic powder
Raita or plain yogurt goes well with this tomato rice.
Tomato Rice Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice (or any non-sticky rice, refer notes)
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion (chopped or sliced)
- 1 green chili (slit, optional)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or crushed
- 1 cup tomatoes (2 to 3 medium sized) (chopped or pureed)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala powder or curry powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder or paprika (reduce for less spicy)
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric (haldi)
- 2 ½ cups water for cooker (3 cups for pot & 1¾ cups + 2 tbsp for Instapot)
- 3 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro) finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
- 12 whole cashewnuts (split & use) (optional)
whole spices (skip if you don't have)
- 1 small bay leaf or curry leaves
- ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 inch cinnamon piece (dalchini)
- 3 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 3 cloves (laung)
- 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 cashews and fry until golden. Remove to a plate & set aside.
- Saute 3 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon piece, ¾ tsp cumin, 3 green cardamoms 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.
How to Make 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.
Make 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.
In the Instant Pot
- Soak rice for 30 mins. 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 1¾ cups + 2 tbsp 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 (highpressure) 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.
- If using curry powder or bisi bele bath or vangi bath masala, you may need to skip the red chili powder or reduce it.
- For basmati rice, I usually use 2.5 cups water for 1.5 cups rice.
- For normal rice, you will need more. Use water as needed depending on the kind of rice used. It requires the same amount as you use to cook your plain rice. But Mushy tomato rice won’t taste good. So judge accordingly and use.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Tomato Rice Recipe First Published in January 2017. Updated and Republished in June 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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