Here is the BEST and easiest tomato rice recipe you can find! This is a popular South Indian style rice preparation that tastes super delicious, spicy and tangy. This tomato rice in Tamil language is called ‘Thakkali Sadam’.
I am sharing two methods: (1) In a pan which uses the cooked rice. (2) In an Instant pot (or pressure cooker) where raw rice is used. Both tastes extremely delicious, choose the one as per your preference.
Thakkali Sadam Recipe
To keep this thakkali sadam authentic, I have made freshly ground masala (spice powder). It gives a fresh and unique flavor to the dish. If you are making this tomato rice very often on a regular basis then I would highly suggest making this masala in a big batch and store in a small airtight container. This way rice will be ready in a jiffy.
- One of the readers has tried substituting the freshly ground masala with ready-made madras curry powder. She says rice came out very good. You can see in the comment below. I think this is the clever idea for a quick turn around.
- You can use bisi bele bath powder instead and I bet it tastes really good.
This tomato rice (the one made on the stove top in a pan) is adapted from “Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India” cookbook. I have also tried tamarind rice from this book and I totally loved it. A must-have book, if you love south Indian food.
Preparation for making thakkali sadam:
- Cook the rice beforehand or use the leftover rice. I have used basmati rice here and followed my foolproof method ‘how to cook basmati rice’.
- To make spice powder, take chana dal, urad dal, coriander seeds and dried red chilies in a pan. Turn the heat on medium-low.
- Dry roast with stirring continuously till dals are light brown in color and you will get nice aroma from coriander seeds. Make sure to dry roast on proper heat; if dal stays raw then it won’t taste good at all.
- Let the mixture cool down completely.
- Meanwhile chop onions, chilies and make a puree of tomatoes.
- Once cooled, grind the dal-spice mixture into a fine powder using a spice grinder or coffee grinder.
How to make Tomato Rice?
1) Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
2) Then add chopped onions, green chilies, and curry leaves. Sprinkle some salt to speed up the process.
3) Cook till onion becomes light brown and soft.
4) Add pureed tomato and remaining salt. Mix well.
5) Cook till all the moisture from tomato evaporates and becomes a thick paste.
6) Add prepared spice powder.
7) Mix well and cook for few seconds.
8) Add cooked rice.
9) Mix gently till incorporated well and cook till the rice gets heated through.
- Serve tomato rice plain or with yogurt or raita (boondi raita, tadka raita). For some crunch, have some papadum or chips on the side.
- This is the perfect rice dish to pack into an adult’s or kids’ lunchbox. Also, pack yogurt or raita in a separate container to go with it. If making for kids then adjust or skip the chilies.
NOTE: ingredients amount and method are different for stove top & instant pot cooking. In the recipe card, I have mentioned for stovetop version only. For IP version, see below.
Ingredients for Instant pot tomato rice:
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- ½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Urad dal (split, skinless)
- 1 teaspoon Chana dal (split bengal gram)
- 1 tablespoon Cashew nuts, chopped, optional
- 8-10 Curry leaves
- 1 Green chili, slit
- 1 cup Onion, sliced
- 3 medium Tomatoes, Pureed
- Salt, to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoons Red chili powder
- 2 teaspoons Coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon Garam masala
- ¼ cup Green peas, optional
- 1 ¼ cups Water
How to make Instant Pot Tomato Rice?
- Wash the rice under running cold water till water runs clear or rinse 3-4 times till water is not cloudy anymore.
- Turn on the instant pot on saute mode and oil. Once hot add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add chana dal, urad dal, and cashew nuts.
- Saute with stirring constantly till dals get light brown color.
- Add curry leaves and green chili.
- Add onions and mix. Cook till onions become soft and translucent.
- Then add pureed tomatoes and continue cooking.
- Cook till most of the moisture is evaporated and it becomes thick.
- Add salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, and garam masala.
- Mix well and saute for a minute.
- Add green peas.
- Add the washed rice.
- Add water and stir.
- Cover the instant pot with the lid, keep the valve to sealing and cook on manual (high pressure) for 5 minutes. Let it NPR for 5 minutes then QPR by positioning the valve to venting. Once pin drops, open the lid. (NOTE: if using traditional stovetop pressure cooker, then use 1 ½ cups of water, and cook for 2 whistles on medium heat.)
- Gently fluff up the rice and serve.
Instant pot method is not a traditional one but the improvised version.
Tomato rice recipe (Thakkali Sadam)
For freshly ground spice powder:
- 2 Dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds (sabut dhaniya)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Chana dal (split bengal gram)
- ½ gram Urad dal (split, skinless black gram)
- a pinch Hing (Asafoetida)
For tomato rice recipe:
- 2 cups Cooked rice
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- ½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
- ½ cup Onion chopped
- 8-10 Curry leaves
- 1 small Green chilies chopped finely
- 2 medium or 1 cup Tomato pureed
- Salt to taste
First, prepare the spice powder:
- Take spice powder ingredients except for hing in a small pan.
- Dry roast on medium heat with stirring continuously till dal is brown and you will get nice aroma from coriander seeds.
- Let them cool completely. Grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder.
Making tomato rice recipe:
- Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add mustard seeds. Let them pop.
- Then add chopped onions, green chilies, and curry leaves. Sprinkle some salt to speed up the process.
- Cook till onion gets light brown.
- Add pureed tomato and remaining salt. Cook till all the moisture from tomato evaporates and oil starts to leave from the sides.
- Add prepared spice powder. Mix well and cook for a minute.
- Add cooked rice. Mix gently till incorporated well.
- Cook the rice beforehand and let it cool down completely before adding and mixing. If rice is hot then the grains will break and become mushy while stirring and mixing.
- Instead of freshly ground spice powder, you can use readymade madras curry powder or bisi bele bath powder.
- For instant pot method, see above the recipe card.