South Indian Tomato Rice Recipe | South Indian recipes
No, that's not a typo. I indeed wrote "bath" next to tomato rice. And I don't mean this as an hangover cure either - just imagine that, a nice rice bath to clear your head! Naah - I bet some Choco and Churro would work just fine ;). Anyways, not to to digress, Tomatoes and rice is a world phenomenon with every region probably having its own version of tomato rice. This recipe today is a South Indian version. The term "bath" (pronounced as "baath"), I believe, has been borrowed by all the Southern Indian regions from Karnataka where "baath" is used to represent any dish made using rice or any ground grain.
South Indian Tomato Rice Recipe | South Indian recipes
In my house this was "Thakkali Sadham" where Thakkali is Tomato and Sadham is rice. My mother made this pretty often, especially when there was a time constraint and/or there was leftover rice. Quick to put together, easy ingredients and very easy to customize. The only science here is to make sure your tomato gravy is enough for the amount of rice - the rest is a cinch. Its pretty forgiving and even with some changes, given that there's a different version for every family, your probability of enjoying a "typical South Indian" Tomato Rice is quite high ;).
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 2 people
  • 3 cups cooked leftover rice, see Tips
  • 1 med-large Onion
  • 5-6 small-med Tomatoes, see Tips
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Bengal Gram (channa dal)
  • 1 tsp split Black lentils (urad dal)
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Sambar Powder, or to taste - see Tips
  • 1-2 Dried Red Chilli (optional)
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee, see Tips
  • Pinch of Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Few sprigs of Curry Leaves and Cilantro
1. Rice: If you don't have leftover rice, you can always cook a fresh batch. Just make sure to avoid making it mushy and to cool it down completely before adding it to the gravy. More time consuming but not short on flavor.

2. Tomatoes: Using seasonal tomatoes provides better flavor profile than when made otherwise. Also try to use the firm variety of tomatoes that don't peel their skin when cooking. No harm really, but few (like my husband) might not warm up to the idea of picking out thin skins from their rice when eating. Or you might just blanch and peel the skins and then add to make the sauce. Also if your tomatoes taste sour, then add a little Jaggery (or sugar) to offset it.

3. Ghee: If Vegan or Dairy free, skip it. I add it only to impart an improved flavor.

4. Sambar Powder: You can use store bought or your own homemade sambar powder. The quantity to be used would depend on the powder (different combo, different brand etc) and your taste preference. So start with a teaspoon and adjust accordingly.
1. You don't really have to be precise with any of the ingredients. I have used about 1 cup of very finely chopped onions but you can decrease or increase it according to your taste. Just make sure to chop them finely.
2. In a large skillet, add the sesame oil or use any oil you prefer. Sesame oil is common in South Indian cooking. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When it starts popping, add the asafoetida and chilli
3. followed by channa dal and urad dal.
4. When the lentils slowly start changing color, add the methi. I add it last to avoid it from burning and tasting very bitter.
5. Add the chopped onions next along with salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes until its soft.
6. While that's cooking, chop tomatoes into small pieces.  Again, the amount of tomatoes is up to you and does not need to be that precise. I think I used about 2 cups worth of chopped tomatoes.
7. Add it to the pan and increase the heat.
8. Add turmeric, stir  and then cook in high heat until soft and mushy.
9. Add about 1 cup water , drop in the curry leaves
10. and the sambar powder (see Tip 3). Stir to combine.
11. reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 5-7 minutes with a lid closed.
12. I do this for the flavors to combine and the whole thing to come together as a gravy. You can at this point do a taste test and season accordingly. If you find that your tomatoes have made a sour gravy, add some jaggery /sugar to counterbalance it. Also the gravy should taste a bit salty (just a bit)  since you will be adding rice to this mixture. So add more salt if needed.
13. Add the cooked rice.  Add it cup by cup to make sure there is enough gravy to cover the rice.
14. The resultant rice should not be like a gravy not should be very dry.
15. Close with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes in low heat, for the flavors to combine well.
16. Switch off the flame and add 1 tsp of ghee. It improves this dish considerably and I personally recommend its addition. But if you are Vegan, you can skip it. Combine once again
and serve hot along with any accompaniment of your choice. I like to combine it with Onion Pachadi (which is a South Indian equivalent to Raita) and crispy and crunchy Vadams not to mention a spicy pickle. Garnish with some cilantro leaves. South Indian Tomato Rice Recipe | South Indian recipes

Recipe Reference

mom's recipe

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By Chhavi on Apr 27, 2014


I am a big fan of tomato rice and finally found n made them in an authentic way. Totally relishable!! 


By akshay on Jul 10, 2016

Nice Recipe. But as a reader it is difficult to judge who has copied whom. Because the first paragraph of this post E.g. The term "bath" (pronounced as "baath"), I believe, has been borrowed by all the Southern Indian regions from Karnataka where "baath" is used to represent any dish made using rice or any ground grain. Is totally copied from this link Or Vice versa. Good luck to you, if you are copied. I believe your work is getting copied as you are one of the oldest and trusted blogger.

My post is earlier than the other one. But oh well, after years of being ripped off and spending a good chunk fighting plagiarism issues, I decided to stick with just doing my own thing. I have trusted and intelligent readers like you who can make informed decisions for me :). Thanks for making such an astute observation and sticking with me. --DK

By Abby on Jun 6, 2015

hi I plan on making tomato rice for my lunch this coming week... I have a question: Do I need to soak the urad and chana dal first? Or all I need is to wash them before frying? If they need to be presoaked how long is it required for?

By Kelly on Feb 18, 2015

i made this today. I added chickpeas for was so good and easy, I will be making it again. I bought Sambar powder and didn't quite know what to do with it, so it was just sitting in my cupboard until now! :)

That's lovely. You can use the powder in so many ways - spice up your vegetable stir fry, your stews even (a little bit for additional flavor) or your pilafs. You can in fact use some in any place you like to add some spices to bump up the flavor. The amount will vary depending on the dish - so add few pinches and increase if needed :) --DK

By Dr.Kiran on Dec 24, 2014

Woww I got a better serve my Angel...thanks :lol:

By Krithika Rangarajan on Nov 26, 2014

:wink: You gotta teach me how to take those pictures ;) LOVELY - thank you!

By rani on Nov 1, 2014

Nice ;)

By s.nithya on Oct 31, 2014


By Siddharth on Oct 10, 2014

Thanks a lot. It worked 8)

By Neha on Oct 5, 2014

Thank you so much. I'm a first time cook. I had never cooked until today. I had to cook because eating out was not an option. Well articulated recipe. The rice tastes like the way Amma prepares. I could follow ever bit of your recipe. Thanks much. Love.

By K N RAJAN on Jul 26, 2014

My son Prashanth Rajan followed your recipe and made tomato rice in US and he was telling about this website. Thanks a lot for the info

By Minakshi on Jul 21, 2014

Wish u had print friendly version. I had to copy paste all of this on a word doc then remove all images took lot of effort :(

By vinisha on Jun 4, 2014

:wink: :wink: iits my first dish.i succeded thnq fr ur receipe :wink:

By monica paman on May 23, 2014

its nice and quick recipe v loved it thank u for a nice recipe have some :)

By vishant on May 18, 2014

nice recipe but my recpe litl difrens

By Govindraj on Mar 15, 2014

I tried it,but it's different from my regular one. But yours is nice.thank you.

By Swaps on Mar 11, 2014

Nice recipe! Was missing the taste of the authentic south Indian tomato rice. Your recipe made my day. everybody at home also loved it. Nice blog! will try more recipes and let you know.

By Gowri on Feb 23, 2014

tried today, nice one thanks for this. but it is NOT tomato rice. After eating i found that this is something my mom used to do when cooked rice gets waste from overnight. (Thaalicha sadham in tamil)

I appreciate you believing your mom's version is what the whole cuisine is all about. We all do! And this is mine:) --DK

By Ranjitha on Feb 19, 2014

Hi.... It's really an awesome dish.... I actually tried this fr the first tym... It cooked soo well that my hubby liked it sooo much... It actually made my day....:) thanx a lot

By jesline on Feb 15, 2014

:lol: very tasty and delicious.thk you for your receipe.

By shona on Feb 14, 2014

can we grind the tomatoes instead of chop

By Ruchi on Feb 2, 2014

Tried this recipe! I'm a fan!!:) the hubby and the kids alike! Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes! Puts a smile each time on our faces! My daughter was playing with playdoh and pretended it to be thakkali saadam! I think the presentation was a good trick! Works like a charm specially for picky eaters!

By Lakshmi Rajesh on Jan 29, 2014

Tomato baath is always a hit in Karnataka.. As you told, we prepare tomato baath, pudina baath, palak baath etc. I liked the way you have explained it along with the pictures which really makes it easy to understand! I just ordered all the ingredients along with paneer. My child loves paneer so I just added panner while preparing the gravy itself. It really gave a great taste. Thanks for posting a blog which really is helpful to many!!

By Mounika on Jan 21, 2014

It helped me a lot in the absence of my mom. By the way, awesome pics n great tips. You must mom of all moms ;)

By Kata on Jan 10, 2014

chana dhal is chickpea?

By kavita on Dec 19, 2013

:lol: loved it its delicious

By Harini Ethimex on Dec 9, 2013

Looks very delicious..

By Radha on Dec 8, 2013

Yes! I'm so glad you did that! Its so annoying how tomatoes lose their skin you have to pick them out, its so gross. I've tried every tomato variety at the farmers market from tiny cherry, plum, grape, pear tomatoes, to Roma, to even green tomatoes. Every size and color. They all loose their skin. which variety doesn't lose their skin? The name? You say firm but the raw green hard one also loose the skin.

By meenakshi on Dec 7, 2013

:) my first glance was at those lovely karuvadams!. do you get them in the US? if yes, you sure are lucky. nice homely recipe.

Unfortunately no :'(. I get it from my mom whenever possible. The ones I get here are better off at shops than at my home :( --DK

By jaya on Dec 7, 2013

can i use garam masala?

Make it your own. As I mentioned, you can adapt it in any manner you choose to suit your preferences:) --DK

By Hari Chandana on Dec 6, 2013

Inviting platter.. awesome clicks as always :)