September 11, 2012

Things that are rocking my world these days:

1.    Late summer tomatoes.

2.    Being on maternity leave.

3.    This coconut chai.

4.    Tiny, Beautiful Things, a collection of advice columns written by the very wise, compassionate, authentic, and funny Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame).  Less advice columns and more paeans to the human condition, in all of its weird, messy, thrilling, sacred glory.

5.    Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe’s profane & awesome letter in support of gay marriage.

6.    Getting emails from my students (I miss them!), long letters from friends who live far away, & the small but oh-so-welcome drop in temperature we’ve had around here.  It’s been cool enough for outdoor runs & feeding the baby al fresco & writing in the morning next to open windows.

7.    And the fact that our little guy has taken to grinning.

This recipe for Indian tomato rice is perfect for the aforementioned late summer tomatoes we’re still getting down here; the heat from the chili pepper and earthiness of the sambar powder play nicely against their candy sweetness.  Best of all, this dish, like fried rice, makes perfect use of that leftover rice you never know what to do with.

Like so many of the best dishes on Blue Jean Gourmet, this one was cribbed from my mom, who generously shares her effortlessly good recipes.  This tomato rice was a staple of my middle school lunchbox; I have many fond memories of sharing it with friends who coveted the “exotic” contents of my lunches (a far cry from a bologna sandwich, this.)  True to form, my mom started packing extra on the days she packed tomato rice so that my friends could have their own servings.   She’s pretty swell like that.



1 ½ cups cooked basmati rice
1 ½ cups large-dice tomatoes (halved if you’re using cherry/grape tomatoes)
1 small-to-medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 curry leaves, chopped
1 ½ T minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. sambar powder
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 dried red chili pepper of your choice
¼ tsp. asafetida
salt to taste
vegetable oil

optional: 1 cup of fresh or frozen vegetables such as peas, okra, butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, etc.

garnish: toasted cashews & chopped cilantro

In a deep saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat.  After five minutes, add the mustard seeds—they should turn white and pop.  (If not, start again).  Add the asafetida, then turn the heat down to medium and toss in the ginger, chili pepper, & curry leaves.  Cook for a minute or two.  Add frozen mixed vegetables, and/or sliced onion, 1 tsp. sambar powder, and let cook.

Add tomatoes, smush while cooking to form gravy.  Toss in rice & turn off heat.  Add garnishes and serve!



  1. I used to make rice salads with leftover ‘taco ground beef’ as a kid and I still dream about those meals. Rice, tomatoes, ‘taco meat’, lettuce, and green goddess dressing 🙂 Now I’m inspired to make the salad you ate as a girl – and strangely enough to make again the salad I loved.

    Comment by Sharon — September 11, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  2. Look at that grin! He’s going to be a real character! Loved your inclusion of the letter. I laughed my @ss off and cheered at the same time.

    Comment by Shannon from Roswell — September 11, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

  3. what a cute little guy you have!! Congratulations!

    Comment by lois — September 12, 2012 @ 9:38 am

  4. Oh my goodness, Nishta, I cannot take The Cute!!! Hugs and kisses from all of us.

    Comment by Jess — September 16, 2012 @ 7:39 am

  5. I made the rice for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! I love how the tomatoes cook into a bit of a sauce and coat the rice with a bright acidity. I didn’t have curry leaves (impossible to come by around here) so I swapped in two lime halves. It was delicious underneath a sweet potato and kale curry. Shiv is darling and I hope that life with him just keeps getting better and better for your family!

    Comment by Phoo-d — September 19, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  6. Phoo-d–I’m so glad to hear this! Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed the rice. And yes, life with Shiv is wonderful, better every day. I know you know how that goes!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — September 24, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

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