Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sunitha's Tomato Rice

Sunitha, one of my dear friends, also a very good cook, made this when I visited her last year. It was nearly 1:30 AM by the time we got to her apartment from the airport (I flew into Columbus, OH and she lives in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, which is about 2 hours from Columbus). I was thinking on my way that I would probably crash once we get home and didn't have the energy to even think about food (I had not had my dinner before I boarded the flight that day). But, after we reached home, the aroma of the tomato rice that she had made just brought back my appetite. I enjoyed it a lot :-). I had made tomato rice many times the way my Mom makes and although my Mom's recipe was not entirely different from Sunitha's but for a few extra spices that Suni adds, hers had a different flavor and was very tasty too. I was amazed at how much difference adding a spice or two could bring to the entire dish :-).

Ingredients (about 2 servings):

Basmati rice - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Cooking oil - 4 to 5 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 2 teaspoons
Channa dhal - 1 tablespoon
Fenugreek seeds - 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds (optional) - 3/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a little less than 1/4 teaspoon
Ginger garlic paste - 1.5 teaspoons
Green chillies - 2 to 3 cut into pieces
Curry leaves - a few
Tomato - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Tomatillos - 2 finely chopped
(If you want it to be a little sour, you can add more of the tomatoes or tomatillos)
Onion - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Red chilli powder - 1.5 teaspoons (vary the measure to suit your taste)
Salt to taste
Ghee (refined butter) - 2 tablespoons
(If you don't have ghee, you can cook using butter (about 4 teaspoons of it) instead of cooking oil)
Cilantro - 3 teaspoons finely chopped


1. Cook 1 cup of basmati rice and set aside.
2. Heat cooking oil (or butter if you don't have ghee) in a pan, add mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. After they start spluttering, add channa dhal, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, green chillies, ginger garlic paste, asafoetida, turmeric powder and curry leaves and fry until the channa dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. Add chopped onions to the above step and fry until the onions turn golden brown in color. Some people have the tendency to burn the onions while waiting for them to turn golden brown. Watch out!
4. After the onions turn golden brown, add the chopped tomatoes and tomatillos and fry for like 3 minutes. Then add red chilli powder, salt and mix well and wait for the tomatoes to cook. Once they tomatoes are done, turn off the stove. Note: Do not add water for the tomatoes to cook. The tomatoes leave some water while they get cooked and that is enough for this dish.
5. In a vessel, mix the cooked basmati rice with the gravy from step 4 and ghee. Add more salt if needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Mouth-watering tomato rice is ready!

I had never used tomatillos in my cooking before I started making this tomato rice. But, if you don't have tomatillos handy, you can just use tomatoes alone. Also, adding fennel seeds gives it a slightly different flavor. I add it when I crave for that flavor.

Potato chips, onion raita, plain yogurt or any fried vegetable like potato fry, okra fry etc, go well with this rice variety. I made this rice for a Christmas party at work last year and threw in a couple of chopped potatoes while cooking the gravy. It was a big hit!!!! :-). My roomie likes it a lot and this is one dish that she says she can eat any time :-). Since the time I learned this from Suni, I have passed along this recipe to many of my friends and they have all liked it very much.


Sunitha said...


lata raja said...

Hi That's a nice recipe. I have a few recipes for tomato rice with just few variations. They all taste great. Now I will try this and let you know.

Anupama said...

@ Lata Raja: Thanks for stopping!!! Yes, every little variation gives the dish a totally different flavor. Please do let me know after you've tried :-)


Love your version of tomato rice, looks perfect.....