Apr 23, 2015

The tale of tomato rice

I remember vividly the packaging, the aroma and the taste of my grandma's tomato rice, which I used to devour in the train while returning from school. The memories - so nostalgic and so dear to me. Blessed with 2 loving and caring grandmothers who cook awesome food, I'm grateful and at the same time, I deeply regret that I didn't take interest in cooking when these 2 active and special women were alive. I guess I was more than happy in relishing the delicacies prepared by them, that I wasn't too curious to know the background work involved.

Now coming to the story, I used to travel by local metro train to go to school everyday. Due to certain circumstances, we had to shift home to a distant suburb. But I insisted I would stay put in the same school for my 8th grade, even if it requires me to travel 1 hour (one-way) everyday. Who can say NO to train journeys, right? :-)

My paternal grandmother was living with us and she would pack me a proper lunch box every morning. I would leave home by 7:15 AM and be back only by 6:15 PM. The long commute and increasing school workload was taking a toll on my health and my marks.

My maternal grandparents used to live in a small town that was somewhere between my school and my home. My train would stop in this town for just a minute and my aunt would bring me some tiffin or the other every evening, prepared by my maternal grandma - upma, poori, chapati, dosa etc. It would be neatly wrapped in a banana leaf. I would take the window seat, grab the pack from my aunt and relish it on the way back home. Train journeys and tiffin make a great pair, I swear.

My most favorite among all the tiffins packed by my grandma is this yummy tomato rice. It had that refreshing aroma with fresh coriander leaves and just the right amount of tempering. For many years, I have tried to replicate the taste but nothing comes close to her version. I'm sure the magical ingredient is grandma's love, ofcourse.

Here's my version of a simple tomato rice recipe. Perfect for lunch box or a quick one-pot dinner.


Ingredients:
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
handful of frozen green peas (optional)
2 tsp oil (groundnut oil or sesame oil tastes best)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp broken urad dal
4-5 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
salt as needed
few coriander leaves finely chopped
1 cup rice (washed and drained)
2 cups water

Method:
In a pressure cooker, heat oil.
Add mustard seeds, let it splutter
Add urad dal and roast till it turns light brown
Add curry leaves and onions and fry till it turns translucent
Add tomatoes, green peas and required salt
Once tomatoes start to turn mushy, add the dry masala powders
Add rice and water.
Mix well.
Close the lid and pressure cook for 2 whistles in medium flame
Then simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Switch off. Let the steam release.
Add chopped coriander leaves and fluff it up.
Serve hot with cucumber raita and papad

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