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Tomato Rice Extract taken from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey (Bloomsbury, £20 Hardback) Illustration © Emma Dibben
November 2023
Reading time 2 Minutes

I love this spicy tomato rice and can sit in a corner and eat a bowl of it all by myself

It is a dish that originated in Southern India. When I was a child it was barely known in the North. But today, with TV cooking shows and cookery books coming into every home, it has become a much-beloved dish throughout India, with subtle additions and subtractions made by every regional cook.
  • 190g best-quality basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 15 fresh curry leaves
  • 70g peeled and finely chopped onion
  • Chunky 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated or crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼–½ tsp chilli powder, or Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1–2 fresh, hot green chillies, such as bird’s eye, cut across into thin rounds
  • 200g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 350ml oz water

Do all the chopping and cutting before you start cooking.

Put the rice in a bowl and wash it in several changes of water until the water runs almost clear. Cover well with ample fresh water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and leave in a sieve for 20–30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3½.

Put the oil into a heavy, medium-sized non-stick pan (with a good lid) that can go into the oven, or else use a heavy medium-sized casserole dish. Set it over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cardamom, cloves and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start popping, a matter of seconds, put in the curry leaves (stand back as they will splatter) and a second later, put in the onion. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir and sauté the onion until it turns brown at the edges. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Add the coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and green chillies. Stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes. Stir and cook over a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the oil can be seen on the edges and starts beading on top.

Add the drained rice and stir very gently over a medium heat for one minute. Do not damage the grains of rice as they are very breakable at this point. Add the salt and measured water. Stir gently and bring to the boil. Cover tightly, first with aluminium foil and then the lid. Place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Remove the foil and the lid. Fluff up the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Cover tightly again until you are ready to serve. Covering the pot with a heavy towel will keep the rice hot for 30 minutes or more.

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