Tomato Rice Recipe


This quick and delicious tomato rice recipe is a favorite staple dish from South India. Also known as Thakkali Sadam or tomato masala, this wonderful recipe is a tasty, healthy, and perfect cooked rice dish for lunch on the go. Simple, spicy, and flavorful, this tomato rice recipe makes a wonderfully filling side dish or light lunch.

This tomato and rice recipe is so easy to cook and uses both familiar and distinct ingredients. Learn how to make tomato rice below.

How Do You Make Tomato Rice?

Nutritional Information: How Many Calories Does a Bowl of Tomato Rice Have?

This tasty South Indian instant tomato rice recipe is made with basmati rice, ripe tomatoes, and some whole spices and herbs. This tomato rice recipe contains 440 calories per serving and can be cooked in a stovetop pressure cooker, Instant Pot, rice cooker, or just a regular pot.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients: What is Tomato Rice Made Of?

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 green chili, slit lengthwise
  • 4 medium fresh tomatoes or 1.5 cups finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 cup basmati rice, long-grain rice, regular rice, or brown rice, rinsed
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Directions: How to Make Tomato Rice

  1. To begin the tomato rice recipe, rinse basmati rice or long-grain white rice a few times in water.
  2. Soak the rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the rice and keep it aside.
  3. Chop tomatoes, onions, and green chilies finely. 
  4. In a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, heat the oil. Keep on medium-high heat and add cumin seeds and crackle them. 
  5. Then add finely chopped onions and cinnamon, cardamoms, and cloves.
  6. Stir and sauté until the onions turn translucent and soften.
  7. Add the ginger-garlic paste, chopped green chili, and curry leaves. Stir and sauté for some seconds until the raw smell of ginger-garlic goes away.
  8. Add chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves. Stir, dissolve any spices stuck to the bottom, and saute for a minute.
  9. Keep on medium flame as you cook the recipe. Add the finely chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes, garam masala, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and other spices. 
  10. Mix very well and sauté the tomatoes until they soften and become pulpy with oil released from the sides. Add tomato paste.
  11. Add rice. Gently mix the drained rice with the tomato mixture very well. Sauté for a minute.
  12. Add coconut milk or fresh water as the recipe is cooking on low. Be mindful of the rice-to-water ratio to prevent your dish from getting too soggy.
  13. Season the tomato rice recipe with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Cover and pressure cook tomato rice on medium heat or about 10 to 11 minutes. To get softer rice, you can also pressure cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  15. Allow the pressure to settle down before removing the lid and gently fluff tomato rice with a fork. Serve tomato rice immediately and serve hot.

Cooking Tips to Make Tomato Rice Recipe

  • This South Indian recipe calls to cook the tomato rice using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot method. You can easily cook this same recipe using a dutch oven or pot with a tight-fitting lid on a stovetop.
  • We prefer to cook this dish with basmati rice or any other long-grain variety, but brown rice can also be used as a healthy substitute. 
  • While fresh, petite diced tomatoes are the best choice, canned tomatoes will do just fine.
  • Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk for creamier tomato rice.
  • Leftover rice is preferred for this tomato rice recipe as it cooks better, but freshly cooked rice can be used as well. Simply lessen the cooking time by around 3-4 minutes.
  • Cashews, cooked until golden brown, can also be added to this tomato rice dish for added flavor and texture.
  • While green chilies are the best choice for cooking with this tomato rice recipe, you can substitute them with red chilies as well.
  • Instead of water, use chicken broth in the tomato recipe. Tomato rice flavor will become even more complex.
  • While whole spices are preferred as they give a fresher and nice aroma while cooking tomato rice, you can use ground spices as an alternative.

Final Note on This Tomato Rice Recipe

Learning how to make tomato rice or tomato masala recipe is incredibly easy and will give you a cooked recipe that’s packed with the familiar flavor of tomatoes, unique spices, and filling rice that you can easily make in your Instant Pot or even rice cooker.