Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tomato rice with ground spices (Tomato Bhaath)

Do you buy Organic produce? I certainly do. Did the study that was done by two Stanford scientists a few days ago change your opinion about buying organic products? I would like to hear all of your opinion on that one.

Here is my take on organic foods and why I purchase them. I was never under any misguided impression that organic foods were more nutritious than conventionally grown ones. I know organic produces can be just as tasteless. I have to admit though there are organic produce that are supremely tasty and sometimes so are conventionally grown ones. As far as taste and nutrition go I never thought one was better than the other.

Where I knew that organic held an edge was where pesticides, hormones and synthetic fertilizers. The main reason why I always buy organic milk, egg and chicken but gave a pass where vegetables were concerned.

I learned to be skeptical of organic claims when I found a box of organic ice cream cones with a cost that was twice as much as the regular ones. There are lot of food companies willing to charge extra and make an organic claim if they can get away with it so it is upto us consumers to make the distinction.

with Ponni parboiled rice and fresh lima beans

I personally think a more broader study analyzing the environmental factors and the effects of pesticides would have been more useful.

Now on to the recipe, I know there are many tomato recipes out there and this blog has two of them. I wanted to post this just the same because it is tasty and different than the ones I usually make. On our recent visit to India we stayed for a few days with DH's cousin in Bangalore who is a fantastic cook. This is her recipe for Tomato Bhaath and of course with my modifications.

I had some fresh lima beans which I added one time and some fresh green beans the next time.

with seeraga samba rice and green beans

Tomato Bhaath
1. 2 cups of rice (I usually use Seeraga Samba rice or parboiled Ponni rice, Basmati rice could be used too) soaked for about 20 minutes.
2. Fully ripe red tomatoes 1 1/2 cups chopped
3. 2 cups of lima beans / green beans (optional)
4. 1/2 cup of onion
5. seasonings: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry leaves and a bay leaf
6. salt
7. 2 tsp of oil

Spice Paste
1. 3 tbsp of onion
2. 5 cloves of garlic
3. 1 inch of ginger cut roughly
4. 2 tbsp of coconut
5. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
6. 3-4 cloves
7. 4-5 red chilies (adjust to taste)

Take all of the above and blend to a smooth paste

1. Take a pressure cooker and heat the oil and the add the seasonings and when they start to turn brown add the onions and saute till they are translucent.
2. Now add the Spice paste and saute till oil starts to show on the sides (about 10-12 minutes).
3. Now add the tomatoes and continue to saute till the tomatoes become mushy and mixed well with the spice paste.
Add in the vegetables you are planning to add at this time. Sauté for a minute.
4. Add the rice and saute till all the liquid has been absorbed.
5. Now add the required amount of water, salt and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let the rice cook to about 3/4 th cooked.
6. Close the lid of the cooker, place the weight and let it cook for 8 minutes in heat to slightly less than medium. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 10 more minutes before opening the lid and giving a good mix.

Serve with raita of choice.


  1. Love dishes like this, I don't buy organic food except for eggs.

  2. I love adding lima beans to pulaos and biryanis too... This is very similar to how my mom makes tomato rice too and it's something we all love. Btw, do you get seeraga samba rice here in the US? if yes, can you pls let me know which store? Thank you.

    I think regardless of whether organic is more nutritious or not, it is better for the exact same reasons you've mentioned.

    1. Laavanya, I buy kal jeera rice which is the exact same. They are available in most Indian stores. I bought them at India Bazaar, they have stores in Germantown and Gaithersburg. I am not sure if they have any in VA.

  3. Great looking recipe! I love how you use the pressure cooker so well, and I'm curious whether this will get my kids to eat lima beans.

    Like you, I never purchased organic food b/c I thought it was more nutritious or tasty... I am trying to be kinder to the environment and less dependent on petroleum products.

  4. Yeah, I saw that report and I was surprised. I thought the point about organic food was that it is (or is supposed to be) free of the chemicals non-organic food has, this was was dismissed in a line at the end of the report I read (not the original one but in the newspaper). I do buy organic rice and cow's ghee regularly and other stuff once in a while, it's expensive but I think it's worth it.

    I always wonder how organic it really is, though - how genuine is the certification, whether the soil surrounding the crop area was grown was pesticide-free enough. I think I'm going to go look for what it is really worth buying in an organic store in India.


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