This is a simple, one-pot dish that comes together in about 20 minutes. Add an onion/cucumber raita (grated, finely chopped onions and cucumbers in yogurt, and seasoned simply with salt, pepper) and you get a satisfying meal in under 30 minutes. Rough equivalent of the Mexican rice!
Chop onions, ginger,garlic, and tomatoes and keep ready
Wash the rice 3 or 4 times and soak while the gravy gets ready; gather the dry spices ready
Heat oil in a pot wide enough and deep enough to cook one cup of rice
Add the onion seeds/kalonji and stir gently
Add the onions, ginger, and garlic, and cook until the onions turn translucent, adding half a tsp of salt for the onions
Add the tomato pieces, 1/2 tsp of salt, turmeric powder and chili powder
Cook on low heat, until the oil leaves the sides, indicating the tomatoes are well cooked, about 5-7 minutes
Add the washed rice and gently mix
Cook the tomato/rice mix together, stirring to coat the rice with the gravy, for about 30 seconds
Add the hot water, and the remaining salt
Cover and cook on low heat for about 8 minutes. Open and give it a good mix; it typically will need an additional two minutes or so; this check is to make sure there is enough water and it's not sticking to the pot
Cover and cook for two more minutes
Open the lid, and by now all the water should be absorbed, and the rice grains fully cooked, but not mushy
Add the chopped cilantro, and fry cashew nuts separately in a bit of oil and add, if using
For the raita: dice or grate the cucumbers, add yogurt of choice;
Do a simple tempering: heat oil, add mustard seeds, urad dhal, hing in a bit of oil. Pour over raita. Add salt as needed
Serve hot tomato rice with the cool cucumber yogurt raita
Recipe courtesy my friend Suneetha from a long time ago!
Kalonji is a tiny black seed, with a strong onion flavor. It has an overbearing smell, so go easy on it until you know you love it. Some people don't care for the flavor, and some would love it! It definitely adds a distinct flavor to this tomato rice. My husband loves this with a side of onion raita!
The dish actually tastes great after it sits for a couple of hours, as it absorbs and develops the flavors.