This delicious, easy and quick tomato rice recipe is a favorite dish of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Also known as Thakkali Sadam in the Tamil language, this one-pot wonder is tasty, healthy, and perfect for packing into a tiffin for lunch on the go. Although this tomato rice is a bit spicy, you can easily adjust the heat to your liking. Serve it plain or with boondi raita and crispy papad. This makes for a wonderfully filling and light lunch!
What is Thakkali Sadam?
Thakkali Sadam is a popular rice dish in Tamil Nadu cuisine. It is a slightly spicy rice dish made with tomato, spices and rice. “Thakkali” means tomato and “sadam” is rice in the Tamil language.
I love making a big batch of this tomato rice and serving it for lunch all week because it’s a great dish to wrap in a tiffin.
If you are looking for a quick recipe to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal, look no further than this simple tomato rice! It only requires one pot, leaving very little cleanup.
My recipe is made in a pressure cooker. Like most rice recipes, it can also be made in the instant pot or in a pot on the stovetop. I shared quick instructions for the pot and the stove.
About this recipe
This thakkali sadam recipe is inspired by the tomato rice we used to eat at the cafe at the Isha Yoga center in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, India. Isha Yoga Center is located at the foot of the Velliangiri Mountains and has been a wonderful place to meditate.
This tomato rice takes me back to our days visiting the Isha Yoga center and all the silence and tranquility I felt during my stay.
It took me several attempts to make this recipe a success, and I am so excited to share the flavors of our rich time in Tamil Nadu.
How to make tomato rice
1. This recipe is quick and easy. First, rinse your basmati (or other long grain rice) under running water until the water comes out clear. Now soak your rice in cool water for 20-30 minutes, then strain it and set it aside.
TIP: don’t skip this step! Rinsing the rice removes surface starches which can make the rice gummy during cooking. Soaking gives the rice the chance to cook more evenly and will ensure you don’t get any lumps al dente.
Sautéed spices, onions, tomatoes
2. Next, take out your trusty 3-liter pressure cooker and heat the oil over low heat until it barely sparkles. You can use any neutral taste oil. I used sunflower oil.
TIP: Are you using an Instant Pot? Set it to the Sauté function for the following steps.
Add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds to the heated oil and cook them until they crackle. Then add 4-5 fenugreek (methi) seeds and fry them for about a few seconds, making sure not to burn them.
3. Next, add ⅓ cup chopped onions, ½ inch cinnamon stick, 2 green cardamom pods and 2-3 whole cloves.
4. Stir and sauté until onions are translucent.
Also Read: Curd Rice
5. Now add 1 ½ teaspoon of ginger garlic paste *, 6 to 7 curry leaves and 1 chopped green pepper (½ teaspoon of chopped peppers)
6. Stir, then continue to sauté until the aroma of raw ginger and garlic disappears, about a few seconds.
7. Add ½ tablespoon chopped mint leaves and ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (also called cilantro).
8. Stir and sauté for one minute.
9. Now add 1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes. It took about 3 medium tomatoes for me.
10. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder or crushed black pepper *, ½ teaspoon of coriander powder, ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper powder.
* TIP: If you don’t like spicy foods, you can adjust the heat level by dropping the ginger and garlic paste into 1 teaspoon and using only ¼ teaspoon of chili powder and of black pepper.
11. Mix well to coat the tomatoes with spices and sauté.
12. Cook until tomatoes are soft and plump and oil begins to come off the sides.
13. Add the soaked rice and mix to combine.
Pressure cooking rice with tomatoes
14. Sauté the rice for a while to allow it to soak up some of the flavors of toasted spices.
15. Then add 1 cup of water. Add 2 cups of water for a softer rice. For separate grains, add 1½ cups of water.
16. Season with salt to taste, then put the cap on.
TIP: If using the Instant Pot, put the lid on and turn on the high power pressure cook function for 6-8 minutes, then let a natural release after 10 minutes.
17. Once the pressure is released, remove the lid and stir the rice with a fork.
18. Serve in a bowl with crunchy papads (also called papadums or appalams), plain curd or flavored raita and a garnish of fresh cilantro leaves for a little brightness. Enjoy!