Thakkali Sadam (Tomato Rice Bath)
By DK on Dec 06, 2013
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.
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 ;).
Prep Time: Under 15 min
Cook Time: Under 15 min
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
Tips1. 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.
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.
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
followed by channa dal and urad dal.
When the lentils slowly start changing color, add the methi. I add it last to avoid it from burning and tasting very bitter.
Add the chopped onions next along with salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes until its soft.
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.
Add it to the pan and increase the heat.
Add turmeric, stir and then cook in high heat until soft and mushy.
Add about 1 cup water , drop in the curry leaves
and the sambar powder (see Tip 3). Stir to combine.
reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 5-7 minutes with a lid closed.
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.
Add the cooked rice. Add it cup by cup to make sure there is enough gravy to cover the rice.
The resultant rice should not be like a gravy not should be very dry.
Close with a lid and cook for another 5 minutes in low heat, for the flavors to combine well.
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.
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