Friday, July 27, 2012

Tomato Rice

Fresh tomatoes and home grown mint.
When we were kids, my Grandma used to make something called "Ketchup Pulao".  It was nothing but adding tomato ketchup to pulao, which had onion and potatoes.  It has been almost 15 years since I last tasted that.  She wasn't keeping well for a few years before she passed away in 2004.  She never told anyone the recipe (which I am sure was something she cooked up on the go, with whatever ingredients were in the house, without all the fancy herbs.  I'm sure she didn't even know what thyme and parsley is) and so in a way, the dish died with her.  I can still remember the flavour of onion, which had become sweet on being fried in ghee with some cumin seeds tadka.  I once tried recreating the recipe some years back, and failed miserably.

I had been craving for her pulao since sometime now, and though I know I couldn't create what she did, I looked up some recipes online.  Of course, I didn't have the fancy herbs at home, but had the basic tomatoes and onions and capsicum.  Good enough.  Plus, Mom has grown some mint in the garden.  If the peacock, whom I consider my Mom's adopted son, and also inheritor of 1/3rd of the jaaydaat, leaves some mint after feasting on it, we use the remaining for tea.  I felt like putting some mint in my "Tomato Rice" (because pulao sounds too desi, and I'm cool like that) and quickly went and plucked some pretty fresh leaves, as shown above.  An hour of hard work (I'm slow) and burning my hand with super hot tomatoes (a girl can be only that careful) wonderful Tomato Rice was ready to be consumed.

So what went into creating this masterpiece? And how I created the magic? ZOMG. I am so modest! Please read the rest of the post so that I can rub some of my awesome cooking skills to you.

Awesome Tomato Rice garnished with Fresh Mint

Basically, to cook something, you need to love food.  Unless you can differentiate between the sourness of tomato and that of lemon, you should only do one thing with food: eat.

So what I used as ingredients.

1.  7-8 tomatoes (I used 7, blanched, removed skin and then made puree with a blender, super easy)
2.  3 Onions (finely chopped)
3.  1 Capsicum (chopped in thin slices - now, I only had 1 green capsicum at home.  You may want to add yellow and red for colour)
4.  1 cup rice.  (basically, 7 tomatoes make roughly 1 cup puree - you need as much rice as you make puree. ok?  Also, I used basmati rice.)
5.  1 cup boiling water. (yeah, ratio between rice and tomato puree+water = 1:2/2.25, depending on how much water it needs to cook your rice.)
6.  Bunch of fresh mint leaves.
7.  1 spoon olive oil. (it adds to flavour, really)
8.  Salt (स्वादानुसार ) and chilli flakes (3 spoons, or again स्वादानुसार )
Now, I wanted to add corn in it too, because I love corn, but there was no corn at home. :( Some recipes I looked up online also added fancy herbs like thyme and parsley and basil. Didn't have any, so meh.  But add herbs if you like the flavours, I wish I had basil though. <3

How I cooked?

Wash rice and soak them.  You'll need them in about half an hour.

Blanch the tomatoes - bring water to boil and drop in the tomatoes.  Once the skin starts coming off, remove and put them in cold water.  That will ensure you don't burn your hands while trying to remove the skin.  Also, you may want to let them cool down.  I don't have patience, and my palms feel little raw right now. Anyway, once that's done, use a blender and make a puree.

In a pan, put some olive oil.  Once it heats up, add onion and capsicum, and let them cook.  Also add the herbs.  Enjoy the flavours and smell. <3

Add salt, and chilli flakes and mix well.

Remove water from rice and add to the pan.  Now, mix slowly.  You don't want to break the rice, especially if you're using the long grained basmati rice. <3  Enjoy the smell.

Add the tomato puree and boiling water to it and mix well.  Bring it to a boil and then cook it on a slow flame while covering the pan.  Should take about 6-7 minutes.

Now, you may want to check it after 4-5 minutes to ensure the rice hasn't stuck to the pan.

So while I was cooking, the rice was still little uncooked but it was sticking to the pan.  I panicked.  So I put the rice in a microwave safe bowl, and cooked it in microwave oven for about 4 minutes with a closed lid.  After sometime, I could still see it looked little liquidy, and I worried it may end up being some disgusting soupy rice. :(

Kids, this is where mothers come to your rescue.  She told me how it was okay, and sprinkled some magic water (it was plain water, but I'm sure there was some magic element to it - mothers are awesome that way) and microwaved it for another 5 minutes.  AND IT WAS DONE!

You may want to let it rest for a while, like 10 minutes or so before serving.  Because I don't like things served piping hot - it burns the tongue and you can't feel any flavours after the first spoonful.

So that's it - my tribute to my Grandma's recipe.  My Tomato Rice was awesome, even if I say so myself, but it was still nothing compared to her "Ketchup Pulao". :'( I MISS HER!


Khushboo Keswani said...

Hey Girl, nicely written. Loved reading your blog. And your additional comments were totally fun to read.

And btw I am going try that recipe for sure ;)

Shiv said...


Mirchi Laddoo said...

This is how a food blog should be ;-) Awesomely written :-)

Leos Of Leos said...

Try Andhra Vantakalu at