Tomato Biryani

Tomato Biryani

  • Servings: 3
  • Rating:


1 cup basmati rice
2 Tbsp butter, ghee, coconut oil, or canola oil
1/4 tsp whole cloves (don't overdo this one - cloves are potent)
6 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks (~3 inches each)
2 blades mace (if you don't have this, no worries)
1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly into half-moons
1 tsp julienned fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 hot red or green chiles, cut into thin strips or slices
into thin strips (seeds included -- I used two frozen red Thai chiles, and they provided a good amount of heat)
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup minced cilantro


Place the rice in a bowl, and cover with water. Swish around, then drain, and repeat until the water no longer turns cloudy. Cover the rice with fresh water, then let sit for 20-30 minutes until the grains soften.

Heat the butter or oil in a pot over a medium-high heat. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and mace (if using). Let sizzle until fragrant, ~15-30 seconds. Add the onion, and saute until brown around the edges, 5-7 minutes.

When the onion slices have browned, add the ginger, garlic and chiles. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute
(the garlic won't be fully cooked, but that's fine), then add the tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, ~5-7 minutes.

When the tomatoes are soft, drain the rice and add to the pot, stirring well. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and cook, uncovered, over the same medium-high heat, until the water cooks down to the surface level of the rice, and craters are beginning to appear in its surface. At this point you can give it a stir to mix, then reduce heat to its lowest possible setting and cover the pot. Cook, undisturbed, for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to sit for another 10 minutes.

When the rice has cooked and rested, remove the lid, and fluff with a fork. Remove the aromatics if you like (trying not to mush the rice overmuch), or just make sure to warn diners about them. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.