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Guest recipes with Serene Tharian

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Easy, Indian soul food


Thakkali Chor (Tomato Rice)

Being Indian, I love rice, especially rice flavoured with tangy vegetables. Rice is soul food. This flavourful, easy tomato rice uses really simple ingredients that I often have on hand, and it has the most delicious tangy flavour, simplicity and balanced flavours. And this dish is a one pot wonder.

The basic tip, I would emphasise is rinse your basmati (or other long grain rice) under water till the water becomes clear and then soak in fresh water for 20 to 30 minutes, drain and set it aside before cooking. Rinsing the rice removes surface starch that can cause the rice to become gummy while cooking.


1 cup Basmati rice

2 medium – large ripe tomatoes sliced

1 medium – large onion thinly sliced

1 tablespoon, crushed ginger and garlic paste

1 chopped green chili (optional)

1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (or according to spice level)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon Garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon tomato paste

3-4 tablespoons coconut milk optional, but recommended

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp mint leaves

3 – 4 tablespoons Ghee (ghee, butter, coconut oil is recommended)

1 Bay leaf

Salt to taste


Completely cook the rice with salt and drain the water. Let the cooked rice cool completely.

Heat oil/ghee/coconut oil in a wide pan. Add the bay leaf and sliced onions. Cook till onion becomes soft and begins to brown on the edges and is fragrant.

Add crushed ginger, garlic paste and chopped green chili (if using). Mix well and cook till the raw smell goes.

Add the sliced tomatoes and salt. Cook till it becomes soft and mushy.

Add all the spice powders, Kashmiri chili, coriander, turmeric and garam masala, cumin seeds and the tomato paste. Mix well and cook for another 5 mins on low flame, till the raw smell goes and oil starts separating. If mixture gets dry add another tablespoon of the oil you are using.

Add the coconut milk to the masala. Combine everything well.

Add the chopped coriander and mint leaves and mix well. Add the cooked rice. Gently mix together rice and masala, until the masala is nicely mixed with the rice. Add 1 teaspoon of ghee if you wish to enhance the flavour of the rice.

Switch off the gas. Cover and let the rice rest for 15 – 20 mins before serving. Serve with a cooling raita, some Pappad for some crunch and Indian pickle for the spice

If you would like to add some sweet pops of flavour to this rice dish, add some pre-cooked corn, or peas. Sometimes, I add scrambled eggs to the masala, just before adding the rice. Add toasted cashew nuts for added crunch


Serene Tharian arranges South Indian Dinner Clubs through her cooking club, The Best Exotic Kerala Kitchen, also on Facebook and Instagram. She can also be contacted on 99 222462


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