Spiced Andhra tomato rice

Spiced Andhra tomato rice

I Love India
4 with a main course
Martin Poole

I tried this as part of a lovely vegetarian thali at Chutneys restaurant in Hyderabad. It was really flavourful and moreish – I could eat a whole plate of it! Clearly, I had to try and recreate it. I’m not convinced that mine is as good as theirs, but I could still eat a plateful of it, so I’m happy! There is very little water used here, so it takes longer to cook than some of my other rice dishes. I add Bengal gram (chana dal) – even though it wasn’t in the original – because I like the bite and roasted flavour, but it is optional, in case you don’t have any at home. This rice is great by itself, but also lovely with any curry.


Quantity Ingredient
180g basmati rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves
5 green cardamom pods
2.5cm cinnamon stick
10 fresh or dried curry leaves
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon chana dal, (optional)
1 small onion, blended or grated to a paste (don’t worry if there are a few large bits)
2 large-ish tomatoes, quartered
2 garlic cloves
5g finely chopped root ginger, (peeled weight)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala, (fresh if possible)
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste


  1. Wash the rice well, until the water runs clear, then leave it to soak while you cook.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan that has a lid. Add the whole spices, curry leaves, bay leaf and chana dal and, once they have sizzled for 10 seconds, add the onion. Add 1 tsp salt and cook until the onion smells cooked and has darkened slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes with the garlic, ginger and powdered spices until smooth. Add to the cooked onions, bring to the boil and cook until completely reduced and the masala releases oil back into the pan; around 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the rice, add to the pot and stir to mix well.
  5. Add 300ml water, taste and adjust the seasoning (it should be a little salty); bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to its lowest, cover and cook very gently for 13 minutes. Unlike other rice dishes, I do like to give everything a gentle stir… but only once.
  6. Taste and see if it is cooked through. If not, leave it for another minute or so. Once it is done, take it off the heat but leave covered for another 5 minutes. Fluff through with a fork and serve.
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