This tomato Pulav is a simple aromatic one-pot meal perfect for week-days, lunch boxes or for lazy vegetarian Saturday lunches as well. I used regular par-boiled rice instead of basmati rice which is just as well; it’s healthier and easier on the tummy. I make it in a pressure cooker, so it is done in minutes. The rice cooks in a lovely coconut milk broth scented by ghee roasted fennel seeds and soft tomatoes. Finish by garnishing with a generous amount of freshly chopped coriander. I served this alongside Vazhapoo vadai (coming soon). You could serve this pulav with any raita or spicy gravy. At home we cycle through this Tomato Pulav once a week and it is a firm lunch box favourite as it is dry and keeps well. It’s a great option for kids as it is tasty and flavourful without being too hot or spicy. It’s the coconut milk that does the trick. I love using coconut milk in pulavs, biryanis and gravies. It is a magic ingredient that lends a lovely mellow flavour to the dish.
We use coconuts almost daily in our cooking (No, we’re not from Kerala) and we happen to have coconut trees in our backyard. We’ve never bought coconuts from stores; we always had our own coconuts. If you have coconut trees at home, you’ve probably had those little disputes every year with your neighbours complaining about the falling coconuts. We have these disputes every year even though we have them picked quite regularly. It’s a small price to pay for all the wonderful things you can make out of coconut. If you don’t have coconut trees, plant a sapling today. Just make sure to have the coconuts picked every half year or so and you’re good. You’ll have a lifetime of free coconuts and ready ammunition for pesky neighbours. Even without coconut trees, my father never gets along with any of his neighbours. So I gave him a couple of coconut tree saplings. He can now spite his annoying neighbours and leave the coconuts unpicked all year round.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Par-boiled rice or raw rice – 2 cups soaked in water for 1 hour
Coconut milk – extracted from 1 whole coconut (about 2-3 cups)
Tomatoes – 3 chopped
Onions – 2 medium chopped fine
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 slit lengthwise
Ground Masala – 1 tsp (2 inch cinnamon + 1 star anise + 2 cloves)
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Water as necessary
Coriander – 1/2 cup chopped leaves and tender part of the stem
1. Rinse rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Then soak in water for 1 hour.
2. Extract coconut milk from one whole coconut. Set aside.
3. Heat ghee and oil in a pressure cooker and when hot add the fennel seeds. Fry for half a minute. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté till they turn translucent. Throw in the tomatoes and sauté till soft. Drop in the green chillies and add the ground masala and mix well.
4. Drain the water and add rice to the pressure cooker. Pour in the coconut milk and stir gently. Level the rice and do the finger test, dip your index finger into the rice mixture and check if the liquid level above the rice is just above the first line on your index finger. Add water if it isn’t. Add salt, taste the liquid and adjust seasoning accordingly.
5. Close with the pressure cooker lid and when the steam starts coming out, adjust heat to low and plug in the weight. Whistle or no whistle, switch off after 12 minutes. Once all the steam has escaped, open lid carefully, throw in the chopped coriander leaves and use a fork to fluff up the rice and mix in the coriander leaves. Close with lid till serving time to keep the pulav hot. Serve hot with raita or any spicy gravy.