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Tomato Rice Recipe | Thakali Rice

Want to relish something tangy, zesty, spicy, and healthy? We have the best recipe to treat your taste buds while soothing your stomach. Yes, we are talking about — Tomato Rice!

Tomato rice is one of the favorite dishes originating from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This quick, delicious, and tangy rice recipe is also called ‘Thakkali Sadam’ in the Tamil language.

You can make this one-pot recipe either for lunch or dinner. Though this rice recipe is a bit spicy, you can adjust its taste according to your choice. You can serve it with plain or Boondi Raita and Papad for a hearty lunch.

What is Tomato Rice or Thakkali Sadam?

Thakkali Sadam is the Tamil name of ‘Tomato Rice’. It is made with rice, tomato, and spices. Thakkali means tomatoes, while Sadam stands for rice.

If you're looking for a quick delicious, and nutritious rice recipe, you have come to the right place. This easy tomato rice recipe needs just one pot for preparation.

Like other rice recipes, you can cook it in a single pot, instant pot, or pressure cooker.

So, let's prepare this exotic flavorful rice recipe from Tamil Nadu.

How to make Tomato Rice or Thakkali Sadam?

Rice soaking

  1. Preparing this recipe is quite simple. First, take the required quantity of basmati rice of your choice and rinse it until the water runs clear. Then, soak it in fresh water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Now, drain the rice and keep it aside.

Sauté spices, onions, and tomatoes

  1. Heat any cooking oil in a pressure cooker until it shimmer. Keep the flame low.
  2. In the case of an instant pot, set it to the sauté function.

Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add 4 to 5 fenugreek (methi) seeds and fry for a few seconds. Make sure you don't burn the seeds.

  1. Now, add 1/3 cup of chopped onions, 2 green cardamom pods, 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, and 2-3 cloves.
  2. Stir the spices and sauté until the onions turn translucent.
  3. Next, add 6 to 7 curry leaves, 1 and a half teaspoons ginger-garlic paste, and 1 chopped green chilli.
  4. Stir the mixture for a few seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add half a tablespoon of chopped mint leaves (optional) and 1/4 cup of chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Sauté everything for a minute.
  7. Add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes.
  8. Now, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, half teaspoon red chilli powder, half teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, and half teaspoon black pepper powder.

*If you don’t like spicy food, you can adjust the heat by skipping mentioned quantities for chilli powder, pepper powder, and green chilli.

  1. Stir all the mixture well to let the tomatoes coat the spices.
  2. Sauté until tomatoes turn soft and pulpy.
  3. Add the soaked rice to the mixture and stir.
  4. Sauté and let the rice soak the flavor of spices and tomatoes.
  5. Now, add 1 1/3 cup of water. If you want to make rice softer, add 2 cups of water instead. If you're going to make rice fluffier with separate grains, add 1 ½ cups of water.
  6. Add salt to taste and then cover it with a lid. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes on high flame if you’re using an instant pot. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  7. Once the pot cools down, remove the lid and fluff the tomato rice using a fork.
  8. Serve hot in a bowl with plain curd, Boondi Raita, or crunchy papad. Garnish the tomato rice with fresh coriander leaves for added flavors.

FAQs and Tips

What to do when I don’t have ginger, cloves, and cinnamon?

You don’t have to worry! Simply replace these ingredients with 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala.

Can I use parboiled rice for the tomato rice recipe?

Yes, you can use parboiled rice. But you will have to extend the soaking time by an hour. You also need to add more water as cooking time will increase.

Can I make tomato rice recipe using cooked or leftover rice?

Of course! First, you need to make the tomato masala as mentioned above. After that, add the cooked rice and stir it gently.

Is regular rice good for this recipe?

Yes! Tomato rice can be made using any of the rice varieties. Short grain rice, basmati rice, long-grain rice, and brown rice are good. Make sure to increase the cooking time if you're using brown rice.

Can I make tomato rice recipe without a pressure cooker?

Yes, you can use any pot or pan to make this recipe. Add two cups of water for a cup of rice, cover the lid, and let it simmer. When the rice looks dry, add another 1/4 cup of water. It will take a little longer cooking time, though.

Quick and easy steps to make tomato rice

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Cuisine: South Indian
Servings: 3


To soak the rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice (any regular rice if you like)
  • Water as required

More Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped green chilli
  • 5 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 4 to 5 fenugreek or methi seeds (optional)
  • 6 to 7 curry leaves
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder or crushed black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 5 to 1.75 cups water or as required
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt as required



  • First of all, rinse any rice you take thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • Then soak the rinsed rice for about 20 to 30 minutes in freshwater. After that, drain the rice and keep it aside.
  • Chop the onions, tomatoes, and green chillies. Next, peel and paste the ginger-garlic using a mortar pestle. Also, chop the coriander and mint leaves.
  • Set aside all the spices required

Sauté onions, spices, and tomatoes

  • Take a pressure cooker and heat oil. Set the flame to low and add mustard seeds. Once it starts crackling, add fenugreek seeds and let it fry for a few seconds.
  • Now add cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, and finely chopped onions.
  • Sauté until the onion turns translucent.
  • Add green chilli, curry leaves, and ginger-garlic paste.
  • Stir and sauté the ingredients for a few seconds.
  • Add chopped coriander and mint leaves and sauté for a few seconds.
  • Add finely chopped tomatoes, along with red chilli powder, black pepper powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, and coriander powder.
  • Mix everything well and sauté the tomatoes until they turn soft or pulpy.

Adding rice

  • Now add soaked rice and mix it with the softened tomatoes. Sauté for a minute.
  • Add 1.75 cups of water, cover, and let it cook for two whistles. For a softer version of tomatoes rice, cook it for three whistles.
  • Switch off the heat and allow the pressure cooker to settle down.
  • Remove the lid, fluff the rice using a fork, and serve hot!