Tomato Pulav


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This is a recipe I learned from my grandma. It  is a basic pulav, the only difference being, the rice is cooked in tomato water. Here I have given my grandma’s way of making the tomato water, I will also suggest some quicker alternatives.

  • Soak 2 cups of Basmati rice or Raw Rice (pacchirisi) in water. [ For 2 people, 1 cup of rice will suffice. 2 cups will serve 4-5 people.]

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  • The steps below are to make tomato water. Please use red, juicy tomatoes. For 2 cups of rice, you will need about 4 medium size tomatoes. If using small campari tomatoes, you will need about 7 or 8. Cut the tomatoes to big pieces.

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  • In a sauce pan, heat  2 tsp. of oil  and add the tomatoes. After a quick saute, sprinkle some salt to sweat the tomatoes. Cover with lid and cook for a few minutes.

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  • Tomatoes will give out their juice. Turn off the heat  and let it cool down for a couple of minutes.

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  • This is a tomato mill/tomato grinder. My grandma used a similar one. (This is bringing back so many memories, as it was my job to use the mill to grind tomatoes 🙂 ).

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  • If you don’t have one, no worries. I don’t have one either. I just use my steamer basket and pot. Any strainer and pot combination should work fine.

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  • Pour the boiled tomatoes into the steam basket.

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  • Now use a wooden spoon to stir the tomatoes around while mashing them lightly at the same time.

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  • Add  little water to the tomatoes and repeat the process, until you are left with just the skin on the steam basket, and the juice in the pot.

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  • And here is the tomato awesomeness 🙂 Ok, now for some easier alternatives. You can grind the boiled tomatoes in a blender and filter out the seeds and skin. (I don’t like that the blenders make it foamy.) Or, the easiest option of all, dilute canned tomato paste with water. But each method slightly alters the taste and texture of the pulav. By the way, do we have to be so finicky about cooking in tomato water ? Why not just saute the tomatoes and add the rice ? The answer is , cooking in tomato water adds a lightness and a subtle tomato flavor to the pulav which you won’t get in cooking with tomatoes as such.

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The measure is 1 cup of rice : a little less than 2 cups of tomato water. As I am cooking 2 cups of rice today, I will need about 3.75 cups of tomato water.  Now that the tomato water is ready, we can get things ready for the pulav.

  • You will need 1 medium onion sliced thin. Peas is optional, but I just like to add them for protein. Also mint it optional, you can use cilantro instead. Also slit 1 green chilli.Image
  • These are the spices needed (in the recommended quantity for 2 cups of rice).

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  • Heat 1 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil a pot and fry the whole spices.

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  • Saute the onions and mint. After the onions become translucent, add 1 tbsp of ginger garlic paste.

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  • After the raw smell of ginger, garlic paste goes away add the green peas.

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  • Add the soaked rice.

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  • Add the tomato water. (2 cups of rice : 3.75 cups of tomato water).

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  • Add 1 tsp of red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp of garam masala. You can add turmeric powder also, it will make the color orangish. I like the natural color of tomatoes, so I don’t add turmeric powder for this pulav.

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  • Cover with lid and cook in low heat. Stir once or twice in between. You can also transfer the contents of the pot to an electric rice cooker and complete cooking in the cooker.

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  • Serve with simple onion raita (onions + yogurt + salt).
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Koottaanchoru


This is the Nellai version of Bisibelabath. The difference is in the vegetables and the spices used. I have greatly enjoyed this rice at my maternal grandmother’s place. This is a great one pot dish.Image

raw rice – 1.5 cups
Thur Dhal – 1/2 cup

Cook the dhal and rice together in a pressure cooker with 6 cups of water , some salt and 2 tsp of oil. You can cook them in a regular pot, add enough water so that cooked rice-dhal has a soft texture.

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I have small onions, radish, cooking banana, eggplants, flat beans and drumsticks. Traditionally, we use what we call as “Naattu Kaai” for this rice and avoid vegetables like carrots, peas and cauliflower.

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Chop the vegetables in big chunks as they have to withstand a long cooking process.

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Tamarind water and asafoetida.

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For the masala, grind red chillies, cumin, small onions, garlic and 1 tbsp. of coconut.

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In the pot add some sesame oil and fry curry leaves and onions.

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sauté the veggies.

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Add the tamarind water.

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Add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida and cook until the raw smell of tamarind goes away in medium heat for at least about 30 mins. Add the masala and cook for another 15 minutes.

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Traditionally, drumstick leaves are added. As I can’t get them in my place,I have added some chopped methi.

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Add the cooked rice and dhal to the curry and mix well. Simmer for 15 mins, making sure the rice is not getting dry.

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Fry some curry vadaam (if you don’t have it, mustard seeds will do), red chillies and curry leaves in a separate pan and add the seasoning to the rice.

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Tastes good when its hot and tastes even better at room temperature. This is a great all-in-one dish with rice, lentils and vegetables and the combination of red chillies, cumin and garlic add layers of flavor. Back in my hometown, I have even tasted this dish with shrimp in it. You can try that too !

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