Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice makes a great accompaniment to meat curries, but it is also good by itself or with meat, poultry, or fish cooked in a simple manner. My mother used to make this with chopped tomatoes cooked into a sauce, but I like the brightness of grated tomatoes. A huge thank-you to Randal Breski for this life-changing approach to tomatoes: until I saw him grate tomatoes into a sauté of rabbit livers and kidneys, I was completely unaware of this easy technique.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups basmati or Surti kolam rice (or other long-grain rice)
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds firm ripe tomatoes
  • 8 to 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 cassia leaf or bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Method

  • Wash the rice in several changes of water in a deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, until the water runs nearly clear. Using the large holes of a sharp grater, grate the tomatoes. You’ll probably be left with a strip of skin, which you can eat or discard.
  • Add the tomatoes to the saucepan. Add the peppercorns, cassia leaf and/or cumin if you like, ghee, salt, and sugar. Slowly add enough water to come up to the first joint of your index finger when resting on the rice. Bring to a boil. Stir well. Lower the heat, cover, and steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff up gently before serving.

Mediterranean Variation

Substitute olive oil for the ghee and top the rice with a little torn basil just before serving.

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