Tomato rice is a very popular dish, especially in the South. The combination of ripe juicy tomatoes along with aromatic spices is a delicious and tasty treat. There are many versions of this dish but this particular recipe happens to be a personal favorite. Tomato rice is just perfect as a light meal or brunch, served alongside with yogurt and papad.
Personally, I prefer Basmati rice but feel free to use any variety of rice you prefer. Sona Masoori or even brown rice varieties work just fine, but do remember that the cooking times may vary with different rice varieties. This recipe is a delicious and easy way to use leftover rice.
2 cups cooked Basmati rice, fluff and separate the rice using a fork
2 large juicy tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 cup green peas (frozen are fine)
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
pinch of asafetida (hing)
1 tsp urad dal (skinned and split, white color)
1 tsp chana dal
4-6 fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup toasted cashew pieces
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola oil)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large dry skillet on medium heat, toast the spices for the masala (cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds). Toast for a few minutes until fragrant and aromatic, be careful so as not to burn the spices. Remove the spice mixture from the hot skillet, allow to cool and grind into a fine powder using a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Set aside until needed.
To the same skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds have stopped splattering, add both the urad and chana dals. Let cook for just a minute or so and add the asafetida, green chilies and the curry leaves. Next, add the onions along with the ginger and garlic. Stir and let the onions cook until they are just starting to brown around the edges and then add the turmeric. Stir and let cook for a minute or so and then add the tomatoes along with any juices that may have accumulated. Now, add the ground spice mixture, salt, pepper, tomato paste, peas and cashew pieces. Add the rice. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients, cover and let simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened completely. The rice should be a wonderful rich mixture of tomatoes and spices. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot along with papad and yogurt.