-Middle Eastern-

Tomato rice


    250g basmati rice (rinsed and drained)

    1 medium red or white onion (diced)

    2 tbsp oil

    1 tbsp ghee

    2 tbsp butter

    pinch of sugar

    ½ tsp turmeric

    1 medium carrot

    2 medium potatoes (clean)

    1 tbsp tomato purée

    handful of peas

    some fresh chilli (for taste)

    3-4 ripe tomatoes

Rate this recipe:

0 users rated this recipe 0 on average.

Main serves 1

In tomato season I'm reminded of when my mum would get boxes of fragrant tomatoes from a town called Laleh in Iran. She and her friend would then make tomato purée together – the kitchen would feel like a furnace as they'd slowly cook off grated tomatoes in shallow pans while chatting and having tea. Then they'd take them up to the roof and leave them to dry in the sun before bottling. At this time, mum would make us Istanboli or girmizi chata (red rice). Dad had been to Istanbul, so I just used to think this was something made by Turkish people. However, when I asked my aunt, who was an Istanbulite, much to my surprise she said they didn't have it there! This is a comforting dish that can be made at any time of year but is great now with ripe tomatoes. It’s gluten-free and can be made dairy-free and vegan if cooked with vegetable oil.

Get delicious recipes delivered to your inbox each week


Wash the rice and leave it in a sieve. Then fry the onion in 1 tbsp of the oil along with the ghee and half the butter. When they are translucent, add a pinch of salt, pepper, sugar and the turmeric. Now dice the carrot and potato.


When the onion is nicely caramelising, add the purée and cook it out so that it colours the oil. Pour in the potato, rice, carrots, pepper (if using) and chilli, and coat in the oil. Now add the rest of the butter and oil and the tomatoes. (If I’m using fresh tomatoes, instead of skinning them I usually grate them using the large eye of a box grater. Just push the tomato with a flat hand against the grater until the skin is broken, then carefully continue and you'll be left with the skin.) Season generously as all the ingredients can take a bit of salt.


Cover with water until it sits about half an inch above the mix, and stir. Put it on a medium heat and wait for it to come to boil. Then turn the heat down to let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes with the lid on.


Check to see if the water has been absorbed and the rice has begun to cook, then add the peas (if using) and stir. If it is cooked, wrap the lid in a cloth (be careful to make sure it doesn't drop onto the heat and catch fire) and leave it on a very low heat for 30-40 minutes to steam. Use a heat diffuser if you have one. If it hasn't cooked and still looks raw or the rice is chalky, then add half a glass of water, pop the lid back on and wait about 6 minutes or so for it to be absorbed. Then wrap the lid and leave to steam as above. 


After 20 minutes check the rice isn’t catching on the bottom of the pan and taste for seasoning. If it needs more salt or pepper then adjust it to your taste.


To serve, cover the pot with a large plate and invert the pot to make a rice cake. Alternatively, spoon it out delicately onto an oval platter, garnish and present with gusto. I usually eat it with plain yoghurt and sharp Irani pickles. Nooshe jan!

Share this recipe:

Our latest and tastiest recipes

Recipe Finder

Crumbs Partnerships