Rice is of course a feature of our kitchen. Not every day, as we mix cuisines a lot, but often enough. Here is a delicious common South Indian rice dish that is rather divine. It does take a kitchen pantry full of ingredients, but they are all usual items in a kitchen that cooks a lot of South Indian dishes. So it should not be a bother.
Cooked rice is added to a spicy mix of tomatoes, onions and spices. Dal is added to the tadka for texture and crunch. This is a dish that will bring applause at the table.
Here is a tip. If you want to enjoy this dish in the middle of winter without using tinned, processed tomatoes, place some of the best of summer tomatoes in the freezer – you can freeze them whole – and use them for tomato rice in the colder weather.
3 Tblspn ghee
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn urad dal
1 tspn chana dal
a pinch of asafoetida
1 stick cinnamon
2-3 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely or mince
1 cm piece ginger, grated
4 green chillies, finely chopped, or to taste
8 – 10 curry leaves
1 large onion,sliced thinly
2 large tomatoes, chopped well
2 large tomatoes, blended to a puree in blender
1.5 tspn coriander powder
1.5 tspn sambar powder
4-5 cups cooked rice
sea salt, to taste
Heat the ghee in a kadhai or large pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop, then add the remaining tadka ingredients and saute until the dal is turning golden. Then add the garlic, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Saute for 1/2 – 1 minute.
If you prefer, you can remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaves at this stage.
Then add the onions and saute them until they are golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and pureed tomatoes with the coriander powder and sambar powder. Cover and cook till the tomatoes turn very soft and mushy.
Add the cooked rice to the tomato mix and mix well. Serve hot with a raita or plain yoghurt, and a pickle.
recipe notes and alternatives
You can peel the tomatoes that are chopped if you prefer. I don’t bother.
Turmeric powder and chilli powder can be added, about 0.25 tspn of each. Or add Indian dried red chillies to the tadka.