Remember Rice-a-Riso? It seems it is still being made and sold in supermarkets, but only in Chicken flavour. As a teenager and young adult I loved the tomato one. Imagine my surprise when I first made this dish and it tasted exactly like tomato rice-a-riso. It was a nostalgic moment.
This recipe is very simple, but because it is versatile I need to walk you through a few things first.
The rice that you use
Long grain or short grain rice can be used, but will give a different result. Long grained rice will be pilaf-like, while short grain will give you a dish where the grains stick together more. Both are wonderful. The photo shows a dish with short grained rice.
The amount of liquid
Rices vary around the world in cooking time and in the amount of liquid they will absorb. This is something totally ignored by recipes, and authors provide instructions that suit only their local common variety of rice. So it is important that you know the liquid quantities for the rice that you use, and adjust the recipe to suit. For example, some local rices are fine with a 1:1 ratio of rice to liquid, and some Indian rices need a 1:3 ratio of rice to water.
The first time that you make this recipe, can I suggest that you check your rice at the 5 minute mark, and again at about 10 minutes? Add more liquid if needed.
The cooking time
The rice in this recipe is cooked for 12 – 15 mins on low simmer, then removed from the heat (do this without lifting the lid) and left for another 10 – 20 mins before serving. This ensures perfectly cooked rice.
If you are using brown rice you may need to leave it cook a little longer.
Tomato juice or tomato puree
Either the juice of tomatoes can be used, or tomatoes can be pureed. If using tomato juice, add a little water to the juice to thin it. If using tomato puree (tomatoes pureed in a blender), use a 1:1 ratio of tomato puree and water to get the right consistency.
The tomatoes can be peeled before pureeing if you desire, but I don’t usually bother. A high speed blender will blend skins as well as pulp, and if your blender is not high speed, it just means that you will have delightful red specs in your finished rice.
Ok, now you are fine to go onto the basic recipe, making your required adjustments.
Red Rice – Rice in Tomato Juice
1 red onion, diced
1 small red capsicum, diced
2 Tblspn peanut or vegetable oil
1 cup short or long grained rice
tomato liquid (made from juice or puree – see notes above)
handful chopped soft herbs – parsley, dill, basil and/or coriander
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
sea salt and white pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion and capsicum until soft and the onion is translucent.
Add the rice and stir until it is toasted. This adds a nice nutty flavour to the rice.
Add sufficient tomato liquid for the rice that you are using and bring to the boil. Cover the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 12 – 15 mins. (If this is the first time cooking rice this way, check once or twice to see if you need to add a little more water. If you do this, DO NOT lift the lid in the last 3 minutes of cooking.)
Remove from the heat without lifting the lid, and allow to sit for 10 – 20 mins. Stir through salt and pepper to taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, and the chopped herbs.
Serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
I like to add a few pieces of my home made Indian Green Mango Pickle to the rice while cooking. It adds a little spice and a nice tang. If you do this, omit the lemon juice.
I will also sometimes add some home dried tomatoes to the rice while it is cooking.
Do you freeze tomato puree or whole tomatoes for use during Winter? These will be ideal. Defrost before use. The whole tomatoes will disintegrate, so you can remove the skin and use the remaining pulp and juice.
One of my foodie Twitter friends tells me her Mum would cook tomato rice with whole spices, coconut milk and tomato juice. It sounds divine! Another one is reminiscing with me about rice-a-riso. Oh the memories a dish can provoke!