Tomato Rice is a quick, one-pot dish that’s perfect for busy days and lunchboxes. Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s tangy, flavorful, and effortless to make in an Instant Pot or stovetop. This family favorite is sure to become a go-to recipe!

overhead shot of tomato rice in a white plate
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

This tangy and flavorful Tomato Rice takes just 30 minutes to prepare, making it perfect for those who love quick, easy, and tasty meals. It has now become one of my go-to dishes. 

Tomato Rice is a one-pot meal recipe that is a family favorite. It tastes delicious, is extremely nutritious, and is easy to make.

Although I love my simple basmati rice, I also love to have it flavored, such as turmeric rice, cumin rice, peas pulao, or lemon rice. And here is another one of our favorites – Tomato Rice.

I have shared the recipe for this rice in the instant pot and stovetop. Either way, it is a one-pot recipe and easy to make in less than 30 minutes. Additionally, I have explained how to make tomato rice using leftover rice, which is perfect for when you have extra cooked rice on hand.

Watch How to Make Tomato Rice

What is Tomato Rice?

Tomato Rice, also called “Thakkali Sadam” or “Tomato Pulao,” is a popular South Indian dish known for its tangy tomato taste and rich spices. The mix of ripe tomatoes, spices, and rice makes a delicious and comforting dish.

This vegan and gluten-free dish is also budget-friendly and nutritious. It’s flavorful and satisfying, easy to make, and perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.

Tomato Rice can be enjoyed on its own or with yogurt or raita. Each bite is tangy and flavorful, making it a favorite in Indian cooking. It’s perfect for a one-pot meal, offering all the flavors and nutrients you need in one dish.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Tomato Rice?

This easy Tomato Rice recipe is loved by many because:

  • It’s simple to prepare, ideal for busy weekdays or relaxed weekends as this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make.
  • The blend of ripe tomatoes, spices, and herbs creates a burst of flavors that will leave you craving for more.
  • Tomato rice can be enjoyed on its own or paired with side dishes such as raita, papad, or pickle, making it a flexible option for any meal.
  • I have also included instructions on how to make Tomato Rice using leftover rice, making it a convenient option for utilizing extra-cooked rice.

Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice: I use extra long-grain basmati rice for this recipe. After cooking, the long-grain rice remains fluffy and separate. 
  • Ghee or Oil:  You can use ghee or oil or a combination in this recipe. I love to use ghee, as it gives a richer taste to the final dish. To keep the rice vegan, use any plant-based oil of your choice.
  • Whole Spices: Use bay leaf, star anise, green cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, and mustard seeds. They make the tomato rice aromatic and add a subtle flavor.
  • Onions: I use red onions, but you can use yellow onions if you prefer. You can skip onions if you like; the rice will still turn out well.
  • Green Chili Pepper:  It is optional, but I highly recommend it because it adds flavor and spice to the tomato rice.
  • Ginger Garlic Paste: Adding ginger garlic paste makes the dish more flavorful and aromatic.
  • Tomatoes: I have chosen well-ripened and deep red-colored tomatoes. You can use canned diced tomatoes, too.
  • Spices: Add the basic spices such as turmeric, red chili powder, and salt.
  • Garam Masala: A mixture of ground spices will give the dish flavor and depth.
  • Herbs: Mint and cilantro leaves are used in this recipe.
ingredients for tomato rice recipe

How to Make Tomato Rice?

Soak Rice: Wash the basmati rice under water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 15 minutes to let it soften and absorb the water, then drain.

Heat oil and/or ghee over medium heat in a pan. Add whole spices like bay leaf, green cardamom, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, and mustard seeds, and sauté for 30 seconds to release their aroma and flavor.

Add whole spices and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add thinly sliced onions, chopped green chili, and ginger garlic paste and cook, often stirring, until the onions are golden brown.

Add finely chopped onions, green chilies, and ginger garlic paste. Sauté until onions turn translucent.

Add mint leaves, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, and garam masala.

Add mint leaves, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, and garam masala.

Cook until tomatoes are soft and oil separates.

Cook until tomatoes are soft and oil separates.

Pour the water into the pan and turn the heat up to high. Then add the rice and stir it well. Let the water and rice come back to a boil.

Pour in the 2 cups of water and add the rice. Raise heat to high. Let it come to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover it with a lid, and let the rice cook for 15-17 minutes or until it has soaked up all the water. Then, turn off the heat and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes without stirring.

cooked tomato rice in black pot

After resting, gently lift the rice from the edges with a paddle or fork to fluff it up. 

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. And serve.

A platter of flavorful tomato rice, served with raita.

Instant Pot Tomato Rice

  • Start the Instant Pot in sauté mode. Add the oil and/or ghee. Once it is hot, add the whole spices and saute for about 30 seconds until their aroma is released.
  • Add the onions, green chili, and ginger garlic paste to the Instant Pot and sauté until the onion turns golden brown.
  • Add mint leaves, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, and garam masala to the Instant Pot. 
  • Add 1 1/4 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Then, add the rice and mix it with the other ingredients in the Instant Pot.
  • Turn off the sauté mode and close the Instant Pot’s lid. Then, cook for 4 minutes at high pressure. When the Instant Pot beeps, the pressure is released naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the pressure.
  • Open the lid of the Instant Pot and fluff the rice gently with a rice paddle or fork. 
  • Note: it is best to remove the steel insert from the instant pot so the lower layer of rice does not overcook.
  • Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!
close up shot of tomato rice with cilantro on top

Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method

  • Follow the same steps as the stovetop method up to adding the rice and water. Mix well and close the lid of the pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cook for 1 whistle on medium heat. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Then open the lid of the pressure cooker, garnish with cilantro, and serve!
Tomato Rice in a serving ladle over the black pot

Tomato Rice using Leftover Rice

  • Follow the same steps as the stovetop method until the tomatoes are soft and the oil separates from the masala.
  • Add the leftover rice to the pan. Mix gently to combine the rice thoroughly with the tomato mixture.
  • Cook the rice on low heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the rice is heated through and well mixed with the tomato masala.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for a few minutes. Fluff the rice gently with a fork or a rice paddle.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
close up shot of tomato rice in a serving plate

Recipe Tips

Tomatoes: For the best flavor, use ripe and juicy tomatoes. Choose deep red tomatoes for a vibrant-colored tomato rice.

Rice: Use aged basmati rice with long grains for the best results. Soak the rice for 15 minutes to reduce the cooking time and to get a fluffier texture.

Spiciness: Adjust the spice levels according to your preference.

Variations

Veggies: Add vegetables like peas, carrots, or bell peppers for a nutritious twist.

Nuts: When serving guests, add nuts, such as cashews or almonds, to the Tomato Rice.

Use brown rice: Substitute brown rice for a healthier option. But be sure to increase the cooking time for brown rice.

Use Coconut Milk: Use 1/2 cup of coconut milk for a creamy texture instead of 1/2 cup of water from the specified measurement.

Add Fresh Ingredients: You can add 5-6 finely chopped garlic cloves and 1 inch of finely chopped ginger instead of ginger garlic paste for enhanced flavor.

Use Canned Tomatoes: You could easily add 1 cup of chopped or crushed canned tomatoes in place of fresh tomatoes.

Storage Suggestions

  • Tomato rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through before serving.

How to Serve Tomato Rice?

  • Serve Tomato Rice warm or hot with simple yogurt or raita like cucumber raita or onion raita, along with masala papad and your favorite pickle.
  • You can serve it with a curry such as vegetable korma or aloo gobi.
  • For kids, serve this yummy tomato rice with a mango lassi or sweet lassi to balance the spiciness.
Tomato Rice served with raita

More Rice Recipes You’ll Love

No ratings yet

Tomato Rice (Thakkali Sadam)

Tomato Rice is a quick, one-pot meal that's perfect for busy days and lunchboxes. Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s tangy, flavorful, and effortless to make in an Instant Pot or on the stovetop. This family favorite is sure to become a go-to recipe!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee or Oil, use vegetable oil for vegan
  • 1 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Chili Pepper, diced, optional
  • 2 teaspoon Ginger garlic paste
  • 1/3 cup Mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tomato, chopped, about 1 1/2 cup
  • 2 cups Water, or use 1 1/4 cup for instant pot method
  • Cilantro leaves, to garnish

Whole Spices

Spices

Instructions 

  • Wash the basmati rice in a bowl until the water runs clear. Soak in water for 15 minutes, then drain.

Stovetop Method

  • In a pan, heat ghee and/or oil. Add all the whole spices and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add finely chopped onions, green chilies, and ginger garlic paste. Sauté until onions turn translucent.
  • Add mint leaves, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, and garam masala. Cook until tomatoes are soft and oil separates.
  • Pour in the 2 cups of water and add the rice. Raise heat to high. Let it come to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15-17 minutes until the rice is cooked and water is absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes. Do not stir at this time.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Instant Pot Method

  • Start the Instant Pot in sauté mode. Add the oil and/or ghee. Once it is hot, add all the whole spices and sauté for about 30 seconds until their aroma is released.
  • Add the onions, green chilies, and ginger garlic paste to the Instant Pot and sauté them until they are translucent.
  • Add mint leaves, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, and garam masala to the Instant Pot.
  • Add 1 1/4 cups of water in the Instant Pot. Then, add the rice and mix it with the other ingredients in the Instant Pot.
  • Turn off the sauté mode and close the Instant Pot's lid. Then pressure cook for 4 minutes at high pressure. When the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then manually release the pressure.
  • Open the lid of the Instant Pot and fluff the rice gently with a rice paddle or fork.
  • * Note: it is best to remove the steel insert from the instant pot so the lower layer of rice does not overcook.
  • Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method

  • Follow the same steps as the stovetop method up to adding the rice and water. Mix well and close the lid of the pressure cooker.
  • Pressure cook for 1 whistle on medium heat. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Then open the lid of the pressure cooker, garnish with cilantro, and serve!

Video

Notes

  • For pleasant-colored tomato rice, choose well-ripened and deep red colored tomatoes.
  • Adjust the quantity of chili powder as per your taste. Use Kashmiri chili powder to get this bright color.
  • You can add vegetables like peas, carrots, or bell peppers for added flavor and nutrition.
  • Soak the rice for 15 minutes to reduce the cooking time and to get a fluffier texture.
  • For fluffy rice, the rice-to-water ratio is very important. I use basmati rice, for which the ratio in the recipe works well. If you use a different rice variety or brand, adjust the ratio accordingly.
  • Make sure the water runs clear when rinsing the rice to remove excess starch.
  • Use oil instead of ghee for a vegan version of this healthy rice.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

You May Also Like

Get new recipes sent to your inbox!
Don't miss out! Subscribe and get all the new recipes first.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




2 Comments