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 in the recipe card.
Preparation for tomato rice
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.
How to 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.
Tomato rice recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 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)
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 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.
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
- 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.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
For normal rice, you will need more.
Use water as needed depending on the kind of rice used.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.