South Indian Tomato Rice / Thakkali Sadam

Got Leftover Rice and Ripe Red Tomatoes, then you should try this scrumptious Rice Variety from the South Indian Cuisine called Tomato Rice or Thakkali Sadam. Easy, feeds a crowd, packs well in a lunch box, kid friendly, vegan and vegetarian. Do you need any more reasons to try this?

South Indian Tomato Rice / Thakkali Sadam

South Indian Tomato Rice also known as “Thakkali Sadam” in Tamil or “Tomato Bath” is a popular variety rice or kalavai sadam recipe from South Indian Cuisine. Easy to cook, basic ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator, doesn’t need a fancy side dish, makes it a number one choice for busy weekdays or lazy weekends.

Tomato Rice is very similar to the many other popular variety rice recipes from South Indian Cuisine such as Lemon Rice, Curd Rice, Coconut Rice, Tamarind Rice etc. Most of these Kalavai Sadam recipes can be dished out for a family or 2 or a large crowd in a matter of minutes.

Tomato Rice is one recipe that you can easily impress your family or friends even if you are a beginner in cooking, bachelor, newly married and / or entering the kitchen for the first time. Be it anything, I guarantee that one cannot ever go wrong with this recipe.

This Rice is made on three occasions in South Indian Homes – Craving for something “puli” or tangy, excess tomatoes in refrigerator and /or leftover rice.

While tomato rice can be dished out using leftover rice, for lunch box, I prefer pressure cooking fresh rice and then packing the same. This recipe is my go to option when I am tired of household chores and want to cook something hearty, simple and comforting.

Growing up, my mother fried a dabba full of fryums or papdam when she cooked tomato rice. A side of Mixed Vegetable Raita or even Plain Curd made it to the table. However, if you fancy something even more comforting, try this with Potato Roast, just like Narayan prefers and you will not be disappointed!

Well those were my 20’s when I had a much smaller body frame. The Late 30’s are all about skipping the fried papad and sometimes cheating with a little Boondi Raita for Sunday Lunch. Please serve it with Avakkai Oorugai or Mango Pickle, without fail!

South Indian Tomato Rice or Thakkali Sadam Recipe
Tomato Rice Packed in Lunch Box with various accompaniments

Rice Variety for Tomato Rice

Purists like me often stick to traditional food pairings and are a stickler for particular ingredients in case of certain chosen recipes.

In most of my Kalavai Sadam recipes, I strongly suggest using short grain rice for best results. This tomato rice recipe, however, is one exception, where I totally don’t mind the Basmati Rice taking over the short grain rice variety.

Over the years, I have cooked this recipe using different short grain rice varieties like Sona Masuri, Kolam, Ponni, Maharashtra’s Ambe Mohar (the fragrant rice variety) or Indrayani too.

However, for this particular recipe, I have used a combination of Brown Rice and White Rice. Both Short Grain Kolam Rice varieties. (A Great way to sneak Brown Rice, isn’t it?)

Side Dish for South Indian Tomato Rice

Apart from the various options mentioned above, some of my personal favourite curd based side dish options for South Indian Tomato Rice are given below.

Pro tip It is advised to store tomatoes at room temperature than in a refrigerator, which most of us do thinking it may spoil. In fact, the ripening process increases the level of the lycopene.

I am sure the entire description and the pictures have enticed you enough to try the recipe so let us head over to the detailed pictorial process of cooking South Indian Tomato Rice, below.

Step by Step South Indian Tomato Rice Recipe

  1. Chop all the ingredients i.e. Onion, Tomatoes, Green Chillies and keep cooked rice ready for preparing Tomato Rice.
  2. Heat a non stick kadhai or wok, add sesame oil and mustard seeds.
  3. Once mustard crackles, add a pinch of hing or asafoetida. Add Chana Dal, whole red chillies and then the chopped onions. Saute this over medium heat until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Now add chopped tomatoes with finely chopped green chillies and curry leaves.
  5. Mix well and then add turmeric powder, chilli powder and some salt to taste.
  6. Cook this mixture until there is no smell of raw tomatoes.
  7. The tomatoes should be mushy in texture and then it is time to add the cooked rice.
  8. Lower the heat while mixing the rice, add salt to taste, cover and allow the masalas to blend with the rice. Should take atleast 5-7 minutes.
  9. Switch off the flame, add chopped coriander leaves and serve this piping hot with an accompaniment of your choice.

Recipe Notes

  • Salt is added at 2 stages – Once with the onion tomato masala base and once while adding the cooked rice. This is done to season the dish well.
  • You can use leftover rice too for making this dish. Just ensure you steam them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes or heat them in a microwave for few minutes before adding the same to the masalas. This step ensures the rice absorbs the masala and doesn’t taste or feel dry in texture.
  • Don’t add tomato puree instead of chopped tomatoes. The chopped tomatoes provide the bite and the tang to the dish which will otherwise be missing in case of puree.
  • Quantities of green chillies and red chilli powder can be adjusted according to your preference.
  • Leftovers of this rice stay fresh in a refrigerator for couple of days.
Thakkali Sadam or South Indian Tomato Rice
Best Makeover of Leftover Rice – Tomato Rice
South Indian Tomato Rice

South Indian Tomato Rice / Thakkali Sadam

South Indian Tomato Rice or Thakkali Sadam is an easy to cook rice recipe ideal for busy mornings, lunch boxes or simple weekend meal. Step by Step Recipe to make delicious Tomato Rice at home and serve it with a side of Raita or Plain Curd and Papad.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, Tamil Nadu Recipes
Keyword: Bachelor Friendly Meal Plan, Beginner Recipes, kalavai sadam, Lunch Box Recipes, South Indian Rice Variety, Tomato Rice, Variety Rice, Vegan Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Cooked Rice (Combination of Brown and White Rice used) See Notes below
  • 5 nos. Tomatoes chopped
  • 3 nos. Onions finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds or Rai
  • 1 tbsp Chana Dal
  • 2-3 nos. Whole Red Chillies
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida or hing
  • 4 tbsp Sesame Oil You can use any oil of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 2-3 nos. Green Chillies finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Few Curry Leaves sprig as required
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves as required
  • Water to cook the rice as required I have soaked the rice for 30 minutes, drained and cooked them in the proportion (1 cup rice to 1.5 cups water)

Instructions

  • Chop all the ingredients i.e. Onion, Tomatoes, Green Chillies and keep cooked rice ready for preparing Tomato Rice.
  • Heat a non stick kadhai or wok, add sesame oil and mustard seeds.
  • Once mustard crackles, add a pinch of hing or asafoetida. Add Chana Dal, whole red chillies and then the chopped onions.
  • Saute this over medium heat until the onions turn translucent.
  • Now add chopped tomatoes with finely chopped green chillies and curry leaves.
  • Mix well and then add turmeric powder, chilli powder and some salt to taste.
  • Cook this mixture until there is no smell of raw tomatoes.
  • The tomatoes should be mushy in texture and then it is time to add the cooked rice.
  • Lower the heat while mixing the rice, add salt to taste, cover and allow the masalas to blend with the rice. Should take atleast 5-7 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame, add chopped coriander leaves and serve this piping hot with an accompaniment of your choice.

Notes

  • Salt is added at 2 stages – Once with the onion tomato masala base and once while adding the cooked rice. This is done to season the dish well.
  • You can use leftover rice too for making this dish. Just ensure you steam them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes or heat them in a microwave for few minutes before adding the same to the masalas. This step ensures the rice absorbs the masala and doesn’t taste or feel dry in texture.
  • Don’t add tomato puree instead of chopped tomatoes. The chopped tomatoes provide the bite and the tang to the dish which will otherwise be missing in case of puree.
  • Quantities of green chillies and red chilli powder can be adjusted according to your preference.
  • Leftovers of this rice stay fresh in a refrigerator for couple of days.

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Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 86 Comments

  1. No doubt that Thakkali sadam is a perfect comforting meal ! Btw thanks for sharing a great piece of information to keep tomatoes at room temperature !

    1. I completely agree. Isn’t it a great tip about the tomatoes? All the while I was storing them in the fridge too before I came across this information. thank you dear.

    1. Dost!!!!!!
      Tried your recipe a few days back n everyone in home was how come the food tastes sooo good today.. ha..haa..haaa..
      Loved the notes too, otherwise would have added puree instead of tomatoes.
      Thank you so much for this awesome recipe

      1. Thank you for stopping by Naush and so glad to receive your wonderful feedback. I am truly happy.

  2. One of the most fav at home….but mine is totally different version…and yours look too good ✌✌

    1. Thanks dear. That’s great. Would love to hear your version too. Is the recipe on your blog?

      1. Still not yet….😊

  3. Feeling hungry, yaar !!!

    1. Glad to see here dost. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Vidya, tomato rice is a favorite of mine and the spicier the better 😉 those curd chilies are the perfect accompaniment with the rice! Drooling here!

  5. Love tomato rice…can have anytime…it’s so comforting…your version is slightly different from mine…its looking soo delicious!!!!!

    1. Thank you dear & i agree its quick and comforting meal option. Would love to see your version of tomato rice too. Is it on your blog?

  6. This is looking too delicious..wonderful tomato rice..Loved the post !!

    1. Thank you .. I love it nice and spicy ! Glad you liked it.

    1. Same here. Thank you so much. Do try & let me know your feedback, whenever you do.

  7. love it! my favorite on day trips and picnics, sometimes I add a little garlic as well but I will try your version!

    1. yes its a perfect one pot meal & doesn’t need any fancy accompaniment… a good bag of potato chips does the trick! ha ha.. Thank you so much!

      1. very true and you are very welcome!

  8. Ohh dear I heard a lot about this recipe. Will try soon..

    1. Is it? Then go ahead make some! you will love it im sure. Thank you

  9. Tomato Rice is a favourite. Nicely explained recipe. Love the combination of flavours. This will go well with plain curd or any raita

    1. Curd or Raita is my pick too for pairing this rice, glad you liked it Drashti. Thanks a lot.

  10. Tomato rice is one of my weakness, serve me with fried potatoes, i can sit and eat without any fuss. Love this flavorful rice very much anytime of the day.

    1. Oh roast potatoes and this is a wonderful combo.. You have tempted me to try this again, may be the weekend. Thank you so much.

  11. One pot meal when in a hurry is just such a life saviour, and the tomato rice looks so flavourful love to try the recipe some day.

    1. Absolutely.. Anything homemade is better than outside food so this option works well. Thanks dear.

  12. I always feel that Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka sides have so many wide variety of one pot rice meals that do not fail to excite me! I would’ve made Thakkali saadam everyday if my kids would eat it. I totally love it while my two hate tomatoes and can’t stand the sight of it… 🙁 All you need is a big bowl of raita and a nice helping of achaar… Ah, I am drooling here…

    1. Your kids sound like me when I was young, I hated the tanginess of tomatoes and preferred it only in rasam. Growing up, I became fond of it. Though still I dont like if there are too many tomatoes in the gravy or for that matter even extra tamarind in a dish. This is something that both of us like at home, controlled tanginess and spices. Raita and this is the best combo for heat.. Wish I could make a big bowl of this and send over to you, had we stayed closer. Thanks Rafee.

  13. There are so many version of tomato rice out there, we love quite a few and now I’m adding your version too as my daughter needs many 🙂 Easy and flavourful tomato rice and papad, I’m happy 🙂

    1. Absolutely true about the versions, my mom made it in a different way than I do, I restrict the use of tomatoes as we don’t prefer the khatta version. This is something we dont mind over indulging. thanks dear.. Papad makes rice dishes complete.

  14. As soon as I saw the picture of your tomato rice, I thought ” I wish I could have some now.” Its been ages since I’ve had tomato rice. A tempting recipe.

    1. Glad my humble dish tempted you so much. Do try, easy to make and all ingredients are mostly available at home. Thanks so much.

  15. I am not a great fan of tomato but have learnt to love this recipe because my cousins love it. 😀

    1. When I was a child, I hated tomatoes and preferred it only in rasam but gradually grew up liking it. Me and husband dont prefer too tangy foods actually so the quantity of tamarind too at our place is limited.

  16. One of my favorite vegetables is tomato and I love tomato rice. Yours looks vibrant and delicious. I would love to give this version a try

    1. Growing up, I always found tomatoes too sour, gradually grew a liking towards it. Thanks and glad you liked the rice.

  17. Love this exotic and flavourful tomato rice..this is my family fav recipe, love to eat with simple curd 😋

  18. I have never tried making tomato rice. But this one looks perfectly done. I love tomatoes – raw in a salad or in cooked in soups. It’s about time I tried tomato rice. Who knows it might become a favourite.

    1. It will surely be a favourite Jyoti, esp if you are a tomato fan. Thanks so much dear.

  19. This is my family’s all time favourite rice but I used to add puree as my son pick all the tomatoes from it.. Looks inviting and your post reminds me that its been long time, I prepared this 🙂

    1. Actually my mom used both the puree and the cut pieces of tomatoes but since it gets really tangy, me and husband dont prefer the same. This is our version, most comfortable with the basic spices and minimal tomatoes. Thanks dear.

  20. Tomato rice is my super quick lunch box recipe. Whenever i feel bored in the morning tomato rice hits a quick hit to finish my work ease..

  21. Hi Vidya! This sounds so convenient and comforting that I’m wondering why haven’t I tried cooking this so far! I’m a rice lover which means there are always leftover rice in my refrigerator. Even now! So this shall be lunch tomorrow. 😊
    P.S. those fried chillies on the side have my name written all over them! 😋

    1. Hey thats super great to hear. The fried chillies are all yours my dear and will remember you the next time I fry a batch! I love them too. thanks a ton

  22. Tomato rice is one of my favorite rice-based dishes and I love the fact that it is super easy and comforting one pot meal too.

  23. My all time favorite! Whenever I have left over rice my mind tell me to do tomato rice. Very simple but delicious rice 🙂

  24. Love the collection of lunch box perfect kinds of rice you have created. simple delicate flavours yet comfort in every bite.

    1. Absolutely true.. all our south indian rice varieties are a blessings for easy cooking.

  25. You tempted me to make this for our lunch tomorrow… delicious, easy dish

    1. I am myself planning to make some during the weekend.. Its pretty hot here so this is a relief!

  26. Tomato rice is another flavourful one pot meal. It tastes good with any raita.

  27. Vidya I am in love with your tomato rice. The simplicity of it is something I love but … my kiddo does not like this kind of rice, hubby would not like to eat rice and poor FIL has got no say. But what say holidays are few and so tomorrow we will have tomato rice as a side for poor old slogging me. 😀 The rest can have their chapatti and bhaji.

    1. ha ha .. I am having a hearty laugh reading this. Sometimes making food for everyone makes us forget what we actually want to eat. I guess you have made your decision and hope you make the most of it .. Thanks so much my dear.

  28. One of my favourite dish.. simply love the flavours.. looks delicious

  29. In punjabi’s we make a simply tadke wale chawal that has less about of tomatoes and no curry leaves. Now moved to Mumbai so I use a lot of curry leaves in my cooking. Will try this recipe soon as I have a bowl of leftover rice to use up. 😊

    1. Thats great to hear. Do try dear, I am sure you will love it. Thanks so much

  30. Tomato rice is a regular at my place especially when i am late from work .Would love to have it with mor molaga and yogurt.Loved the beautiful clicks that make it more tempting.

    1. Thank you so much dear. In summers, I survive on these rice varieties purely. Cannot pull myself together to make rotis.

  31. Great recipe , Your method is very encouraging.

    1. Thanks

  32. Hi Vidya, I love this recipe and tempting me to try it !!!😆

    1. Hi, please try and let me know how it turned out. Cheers and thank you

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