- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 45 minutes
- Serves 6
We made this rice for Raghavan Iyer—Cookbook Author, Magazine Writer, Culinary Educator—and I'm thanking him for writing this recipe. —pauljoseph
Test Kitchen Notes
We are simply in love with this savory tomato rice recipe—it's loaded with aromatics and layers of heat but so easily made for a simple side or lunch. Family and friends will love it and ask you for the recipe whenever you make it. With these precise instructions, the rice comes out perfectly cooked and soaked through with the flavorful tomato broth. Slow and steady wins here, especially cooking the rice over super-low heat at the very end. Featuring ghee, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles, this tomato rice dish is unforgettable, comforting, and warming. Throw in some chicken or ground beef and you've got yourself a delicious entrée. You can vary the spice with the type of chiles you choose (for example, Thai are much spicier than serrano), and whether you remove the seeds and heat-packed white ribs. Bear in mind that the spice will continue to build as you eat, and you can taste as you go. If you can't find whole mace, you can substitute 1/8 tsp ground mace or even skip it altogether and let the other spices carry the dish.
Yes, rinsing and soaking the rice seems time-consuming, but your patience will be rewarded and you'll end up with the best flavor and texture. All that's left to do is sauté the spices and aromatics, stir in the tomatoes, then let the rice simmer in all of that goodness. Your kitchen will smell delightful, and you'll forever love this combination of textures and ingredients.
white basmati rice
ghee or unsalted butter
green or white cardamom pods
(3-inch) cinnamon sticks
small red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 to 3
fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed, cut lengthwise into thin strips (do not remove the seeds)
medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
shredded fresh ginger
(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
coarse kosher or sea salt
finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- In a medium bowl, place the rice. Fill the bowl halfway with water to cover the rice. Gently rub the grains through your fingers, without breaking them, to wash off any dust or light foreign objects (like loose husks), which will float to the surface. The water will become cloudy. Drain and repeat this process three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain again. Fill the bowl halfway with cold water and let it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, until the kernels soften. Drain one more time.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the ghee. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, mace, and cloves. Cook, stirring, for 15 to 30 seconds, until they sizzle, crackle, and smell aromatic. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until light brown around the edges.
- Mix in the chiles, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. (You don't want the garlic to brown because its nutlike crunch is important to the rice's texture.) Stir in the tomatoes, with their juices, and the salt and turmeric. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the tomatoes soften.
- Add the drained rice and toss gently to coat with the tomato sauce. Pour in 1½ cups water and stir once to incorporate. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the water has evaporated from the surface and craters are starting to appear in the rice. Then (and not until then) stir once to bring the partially cooked layer from the bottom of the pan to the surface. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (10 minutes for a gas burner). Turn off the heat and let the pan sit on that burner, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, and sprinkle with the cilantro. (Remove the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks before you serve, or just remind folks to eat around them.)