Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tomato Briyani

Tomato Briyani with Chicken Curry

Its Spring and tomatoes are in abundance. Last week when I went to the supermarket for groceries, a pile of red juicy tomatoes caught my eyes and I couldn't resist buying them. I ended up buying a few pounds, but then I wondered how to use them up wisely before they rot. I started hunting for some good recipes in my cookbook, and I couldn't beleive how many recipes I had using tomatoes! One reason is that tomato is a universal vegetable that can blend with any form of food or spice. And not to mention it teams up with Rice as well!

Its almost impossible to overestimate the importance of rice in south indian cooking. Rice is the main staple food in south, and is eaten atleast twice by the average family. Its usually combined with a curry or a sauce (sambar, rasam etc.) to make it more interesting and tastier. Apart form the curries, there is an assortment of "variety-rice" dishes that are usually stir-fried or cooked together with spices. Stir-fried rice items are usually made with pre-cooked rice, infused with spices. Amazingly, most of the stir-fried rice dishes use only basic ingredients like mustard seeds, curry leaves, lemon, tamarind etc. to give them their authentic south indian flavor.

Briyanis are different from stir-fried rice dishes in the way that the raw rice is cooked along with aromatic ingredients. Briyani gives a whole new journey into the spice world. Authentic briyanis are time consuming and were made at home only during special occassions. Otherwise, briyanis were only restaurant foods. But after the arrival of electric rice cooker, briyani is as easy as any other rice item.

This recipe is a variation from the regular Tomato Rice. I make tomato rice pretty much with basic ingredients like mustard seeds, curry leaves and tomatoes. However this recipe gives a briyani touch but with a boost of tomato flavor. I picked it up from my recipe collections and a quick glance at the ingredients convinced me that it's not that time consuming. I made this dish along with chicken curry and vegetable kurma (since my husband is a vegetarian), and both of them are excellent combinations.

  • Basmati rice - 1 cup
  • Ripe Tomatoes (medium size) - 4
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • G.chillies - 3
  • Garlic (medium size) - 3
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Corriander leaves - a handful
  • Mint leaves - 4
  • Soak the basmati rice in water atleast for 15 mins.
  • Blend the g.chillies and garlic to a paste. Set aside.
  • Blend the tomatoes to a puree. Set aside.
  • Chop the onions, corriander and mint leaves finely.
  • Heat ghee/oil in a pan and season with cumin seeds, cinnamom, cloves and cardamom.
  • Add the g.chillies/garlic paste and fry for a few mins.
  • Add the onions, curry leaves and fry well for a few mins in medium heat.
  • Then add the mint and corriander leaves and fry for a min.
  • Finally add tomato puree and let it boil for a few mins.
  • Add soaked rice, salt and 1.5 cups of water to this boiling mixture and cook together in a rice cooker. You can also cover and cook the rice in the same pan in low heat for 10 - 12 mins.
Serve hot with any gravy and/or raita.

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