Paella Style Spiced Tomato Rice

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on January 10, 2011

If you’ve been reading my blog for sometime, or you have been following me on twitter, or facebook, you know I have a great love for traveling.  Travel opens up the mind, gives me different perspectives and squashes prejudice. I learn so much through the things I see and the people I meet my travels.

One such person was Monika, whom I met in Melbourne. (More about my Australia, New Zealand, Fiji trip in later posts!). Both Monika and I were staying with a host family for the weekend. Our lovely hosts were Hungarian, lived in New Zealand, and then moved to Australia. Monika is Polish, grew up in Germany, and studied in Spain. Then there was me – grew up in India, studied in the UK and now live in the US. We were all representing at least 3 countries each, and combined, have traveled to over a 100. So you can imagine all the international conversations we had!

Monika and I were roommates for the weekend. We chatted through the night, lying on our bunk beds, discussing life, love, marriage and men in our respective countries. We both learnt so much from each other that weekend.

I decided to cook an Indian meal for Monika and our hosts. I was more than thrilled to find out that our amazing Hungarian hosts had a pantry full of Indian ingredients, including asafoetida and curry leaves!

When I finished making tomato rice (which Monika loved!) and pumpkin curry, the aroma of curry leaves, turmeric and fragrant basmati filled the kitchen. I was nearly transported back home. Only, I was in Australia, happily finding curry leaves in a Hungarian fridge!  

This is for you Monika ♥

A good paella always has a crusty bottom called socarrat. To me, thats the best part of the dish. I’m always scraping up the delicious crusty rice! This dish is tomato rice, not paella, so we wont call its crust soccarat. But in any case, the bottom layer of caramelized basmati rice is just wonderful.

First, cook onions, garlic, and tomatoes, along with a little turmeric and paprika.

The tomatoes will break down, and the sauce will thicken and reduce to about half its original volume. Now add rice.

Stir the rice and let it toast a little. Then add water, cover, and simmer.

caramelized bottom layer – the best part!

How to get a paella style crust (socarrat) – when the rice is done, crank up the heat to high just for about a minute. This will make the rice in the bottom toasted and crispy. Thats it! Be careful not to burn the rice, you just want it browned a little.

You must use a wide skillet, preferably non stick, to achieve the crispy bottom layer. If you dont plan on creating the crust, a saucepan will do.

Tomato Rice with a Paella Style Crust: Recipe

serves 2-3

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 medium tomatoes (1 lb) chopped fine (about 2 cups when chopped)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika or chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
1 cup bastmati rice
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt (adjust according to taste)

Use a 10 inch non-stick skillet thats about 1 1/2 inches deep and has a lid. Heat oil in the skillet, and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add cumin seeds and let sizzle for a few seconds. Then add curry leaves and chopped onion. Cook on medium heat till the onion is lightly brown. Add garlic cloves to the oil, and stir for about a minute. Dont let the garlic brown.

Now add chopped tomatoes, turmeric and chili powders to the skillet. Add sugar if using (I like to use a little sugar if the tomatoes are too sour).

Cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, till most the liquid is gone, the tomatoes have broken down, and the sauce reduces to about half its original volume. This will take 10-15 minutes. You will land up with just over one cup of tomato-onion sauce.

To the reduced sauce, add rice, and salt. Stir on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes. Add water to the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover the skillet and simmer for about 15 minutes, or till the rice is cooked and fluffy. Start checking the rice after 12 minutes to ensure it doesnt over cook.

When the rice is done, increase the heat to high. Let the rice sit on high heat for about one minute. This will form a tasty rice crust on the bottom, much like in a paella.

Serve tomato rice with my grandmother’s multi coloredvegetable raita.

Optional garnishes for tomato rice - roasted cashews, roasted peanuts, crispy fried onions, or chopped cilantro

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Comments

comments

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Siri January 11, 2011 at 12:24 am

Wow, you were with a host family. That would be such an interesting experience Sala. can’t wait to more about that. the tomato paella looks vibrant and colorful. M was one lucky person!

Siri

[Reply]

Reply

2 Sharmilee January 11, 2011 at 12:25 am

Lovely tomato rice…looks very flavourful

[Reply]

Reply

3 Priti January 11, 2011 at 1:14 am

This looks so yummy……love the colour …nice clicks Sara

[Reply]

Reply

4 nags January 11, 2011 at 1:34 am

yay! its so cool to have you back :) can’t wait to know more about your travels!

[Reply]

Reply

5 notyet100 January 11, 2011 at 2:16 am

you are right,this will go perfect with raita,..;-)

[Reply]

Reply

6 Kulsum at JourneyKitchen January 11, 2011 at 2:16 am

I need that pot. I need this now. Oh! Sala this is incredible!

[Reply]

Reply

7 Rosa January 11, 2011 at 2:22 am

A lovely pilaf! Basmati rice is so frangrant.

Cheers,

Rosa

[Reply]

Reply

8 Jennifer (Delicieux) January 11, 2011 at 3:04 am

Looks delicious, as always. I also love your tip for achieving a pealla crust. I will try this :D

[Reply]

Reply

9 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 11, 2011 at 3:08 am

The crusty rice at the bottom of the paella reminds me a lot of Persian rice with Tadigh, (that golden and crunchy disk of rice at the bottom), it’s funny how so many things in cooking cross cultures.

[Reply]

Reply

10 Manju January 11, 2011 at 3:21 am

yaay! waiting to hear more about your travels..followed it diligently on facebook :)

[Reply]

Reply

11 Miriam/The Winter Guest January 11, 2011 at 3:34 am

You know a lot of “natives” do love the socarrat too? Haha, I love the bowl, by the way!

[Reply]

Reply

12 Happy Cook January 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

I want to have your life of travelling. I am so looking forward for reading your travel post.
Rice looks really yumm,

[Reply]

Reply

13 pavithra January 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

Beautiful pictures as always.. and delicious rice !!! Hope ur are settled after ur travel. Hope to see ur travel stories.

[Reply]

Reply

14 Manasi January 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

Must been a great experience…. I envy you :) I wish I could travel more.
Paella style Tomato Rice looks fabulous. And the pot is SO gorgeous! Where, oh where, did u get it?

[Reply]

Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

its actually a candle holder that a friend gave me :) its from ten thousand villages, heres the link – http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/potters-story-candleholder

[Reply]

Reply

15 Manu January 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

I love paella! I’m happy I can make a vegetarian one now!
Gourgeous pictures!

[Reply]

Reply

16 FoodZone January 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

Aaah finally you are back! missed your posts. Waiting to hear more about your trip. that rice looks so delicious!

[Reply]

Reply

17 Prerna@IndianSimmer January 12, 2011 at 12:10 am

Wow, a month long vacation and that too such an interesting one sounds something out of my dreams! Traveling definitely teaches and exposes you to so much new.
That paella looks amazing, crusty, colorful and I’m sure tastes wonderful too!

[Reply]

Reply

18 Laavanya January 12, 2011 at 9:21 am

I too love the crusty part on the bottom – my favorite part of the upmas made at home. How yummy that you got the same effect on this tomato rice…

[Reply]

Reply

19 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets January 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Wow Sala, that is one gorgeous bowl of rice. This reminds me of when I asked my Indian friend in college to pick her favorite Indian dish. It was tomato rice, and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since! Especially with those gorgeous browned bits (I love rice crust), this is definitely the recipe I must try.

[Reply]

Reply

20 Olga @ MangoTomato January 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm

the colors are striking and I love all the action shots!

[Reply]

Reply

21 Jo January 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

This looks amazing! I’m trying to do it with coconut oil now. Do you think it will turn out? I hope so. I use olive oil in every other meal of my life, I thought I’d change it up…

[Reply]

Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Sure, coconut oil will work

[Reply]

Reply

22 mythili January 26, 2011 at 1:16 am

Goodness! The earthen pot looks so charming! Lovely presentation and amazing food porn!

[Reply]

Reply

23 kankana April 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I find tomato rice so comforting! I too made it recently and I can eat it non stop. Also on those lazy or busy days .. this one pot meal is the best option :) Your pics are so gorgeous ! Looking for ward to hear more about your trip .. particularly about Fiji :)

[Reply]

Reply

24 jacki May 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

I love this recipe! I made it with your Methi Dal recipe that you guest posted over at Herbavoracious, and they both turned out great! I only just discovered your blog, and I simply can’t wait to make more of your recipes. If I may suggest, since you’re using wordpress, you should try the plugin called “print friendly” to make your recipes printable. It’s a great plugin. I had to copy and paste your recipe into a text document in order to print without printing the pictures and comments, which is okay but not ideal. Anyway, thanks for your fabulous recipes and your wonderful photos. I can’t wait to try more.

[Reply]

Reply

25 Gerbera August 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Hi, I just made this and it came out really good. The paella style crust was a great idea. My vegetable garden is overflowing with tomatoes, and i have been looking up recipes that could use them. This was perfect. Thanks!

[Reply]

Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

glad you enjoyed it, i love the crust too!

[Reply]

Reply

26 shil December 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Thats looks absolutely wonderful ..Yum !!

[Reply]

Reply

27 sheekah December 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

This recipe looks gorgeous. I don’t have access to curry leaves, though – do you have any recommended substitutes? Thanks so much for this post.

[Reply]

Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

There is substitute, unfortunately. Just leave out the curry leaves.

[Reply]

Reply

Leave a Comment

Comment using OpenID

Page 1 of 11

Previous post:

Next post: