Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tomato Rice

I came to learn about Tessa Kiros through I Heart Cooking Clubs. I have never heard of her before that. Even though I've only tried a few of her recipes, all those recipes are really good. Her pasta recipe, Daniele's Tomato Pasta, is my kids' most favourite spaghetti, the one that they often asked for, the most. I have made about a dozen times since then. They call this dish, "Fresh Pasta", simply because there's no cooking involved, other than cooking the spaghetti till al dente, and tossing the pasta with the prepared mixture (made a few hours in advance to mingle the flavours), of cherry tomatoes, olive oil, capers, garlic, fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. My daughter has brought this spaghetti dish to school a couple of times, always with an extra container packed, to share with her friends, as they loved it too! 

During the last month of cooking with Tessa, I have bought one of her books, Piri Piri Starfish, as it was on sale, and I was so happy to take it home, as her books are rather expensive. It is a beautiful book with recipes and anecdotes from her travels to Portugal. So far, I have tried only one recipe from the book and many more are bookmarked, yet never did find the time to try them out. This Tomato Rice was one of them. When I made Yotam Ottolenghi's Roasted Chicken with Chili and Basil, I was looking for some rice recipe that I could make to go with the chicken. And this Tomato Rice is just the one!

According to Tessa, this is a kind of "everywhere" dish, served alongside grilled prawns, flattened chickens or grilled fish, not usually meant to be in the leading role, but it's very good all the same. And if you like, some veggies can be added in, such as celery, zucchini and carrots, and even some herbs like rosemary. One word of advise from Tessa is to use really ripe tomatoes, otherwise use the canned ones, better than not-quite-ripe-enough tomatoes.

I have used ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, but have omitted the red capsicum as I have forgotten to buy it. Medium-grain rice is used, and I have used Calrose rice. Chopped onions are firstly sauteed in oil till golden, add the capsicum (if using), garlic, parsley and bay leaf, stir for a minute until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the spoon, leaving some visible chunks. Add the rice, stir to mix the flavours, and add 4 cups of water. I find that 4 cups is a little too much, I added in 3 cups at first and added in half a cup more during cooking when I feel that the rice needs it. Continue cooking as per the instructions in the recipe.

Just as Tessa describes, this Tomato Rice is not meant to be in the leading role, but it is good all the same. To me, it is very good! The family likes it. Perfect alongside the Roasted Chicken. Very tasty and I can see why ripe tomatoes are really important here. The caramelized onions are just so good, I can get bites of it in every spoonful. Next time I'll add on more chopped parsley. I could eat this Tomato Rice alone as a one-pot meal. Delicious. Another winner recipe from Tessa.

Tomato Rice
(adapted from "Piri piri Starfish", by Tessa Kiros)
Serves 4-6
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small red pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 small fresh bay leaf
4 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 400 gm/14 oz tin chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
20 gm (3/4 oz) butter
coarse salt
400 gm (2 cups) medium-grain rice (I use calrose rice)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion until sticky and golden. Add the pepper and cook until everything is jammy and turning golden. Add the garlic, parsley and bay leaf and, when you start to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, about 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and a little pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing up the tomatoes a bit but still leaving a few chunks.

Add the rice and turn it through well to mix in the flavours. Add 1 litre (4 cups) (I use only 3-1/2 cups) of water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, checking that nothing is sticking. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice, cover and leave for 10 minutes before you serve. Fluff it through again - it should have absorbed most of the liquid and be just right, in which case serve immediately. If it's too firm, leave it covered for a while longer. Best hot, but also good at room temperature.

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  1. Joyce, I must try this tomato rice! Certainly a nice variation from our local nasi tomato :)

  2. The name Tomato Rice sounds plain but a look at the ingredients cooking this rice sure give a different view as I know this is a flavourful rice. I got to try this out myself too.

  3. This is a perfect accompaniment to so many dishes!! Am definitely adding this to my list of "things to cook"!

  4. I love tomato rice! Easy and flavorful!

  5. Another new cookbook ? I think you need another shelf :D I'll check her books via our local online catalogue later . Anyway , I love tomato and rice but haven't tried both cooked together . It looks appetizing for sure esp paired with that gorgeous roasted chicken , just delicious !

    I'm gonna link my cookies to your Cook your Books event ;D

  6. Love the way you write about this rice dish, definitely can be a leading star to me!

  7. Simple and delicious! My kind of rice dish.

  8. Hi Joyce, I love tomato rice - I remember adding ketchup into my fried rice all the time when I was younger... haha! Yours look simple and delicious!

  9. Hi Joyce , tomato rice sounds so delicious , look at all the nice ingredients , bookmwrked it for later , thanks for sharing :)>

  10. i nvr tried our local nasi tomato before..i wonder if this is nice with some sambal or curry chicken..hehe..

  11. I love the marriage of the ingredients in your rice.... Thumbs and toes up!

  12. Hi Joyce,
    This sounds like a great dish to have as a stash for those times you just need to have rice with a meal. And so versatile too!

    Thanks for sharing, Joyce...

  13. Una gran delicia de relamarse los labios,abrazos.

  14. Hi Joy,
    I am getting hungry just looking at your flavorful rice. We will really enjoy this recipe! Hope you have a great week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  15. Hi, Joyce! I am such a big fan of Tessa Kiros thanks to IHCC. Out of all of her cookbooks, this is the one I'm least familiar with. I find the name very catching.

    I can see how this rice is an "everywhere" dish--off the top of my head I can think of many things to serve it with. Looks like something my family and I would want to eat often. Thanks for linking!

    P.S. Are you ready for Donna Hay?

  16. I can see how this rice dish would be a great accompaniment to your Ottolenghi dish, Joyce, and I can imagine all kinds of other things it would be great with too, but honestly, I could just eat a bowl of that on it's own!! Piri Piri Starfish is on my cookbook wishlist.