Tomatoes pull double duty in coconut rice
When Labor Day swings around, it’s the cue for a final summer food fling — one last late-night barbeque and a fond farewell to the garden’s seasonal bounty.
Perhaps the saddest good-bye is to summer tomatoes. Although they’re available year-round, they never quite taste the same. Right now, they’re at peak deliciousness.
I eat them in every way I can: I fry them for breakfast, slow-roast them for salads, add them to sandwiches and make tomato chutney. But when big groups of friends come over, I love whipping up South Indian tomato and coconut rice.
Tomatoes work in a couple of different ways in this recipe: They create a wonderful sauce alongside the coconut milk, which is used to flavor and cook the rice, then they float to the top to decorate the dish.
The end result is a dish delicious enough to stand on its feet without the need for anything else but will also complement grilled meat or salad. It’s also inexpensive to make and uses just a single pot.
Tomato and Coconut Rice
Curry leaves add a lovely citrus and smoke flavor to the rice, but can be tricky to find unless you live near an Asian supermarket. If you can’t find them, leave them out.
2 cups of basmati rice
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 fresh curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick, approx. 2 inches
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green serrano chilies, finely sliced
1 handful of cashews, unsalted
12 ounces fresh baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup water
Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak in cold water to one side.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. When oil is hot, add the curry leaves and cinnamon stick. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the onions. Cook the onions until they begin to turn golden brown and are soft enough to cut with a wooden spoon, then add the garlic, chilies and cashews.
Cook for another two minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cover and cook for around eight minutes until the tomatoes are soft around the edges.
Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Stir to mix. Then add all of the coconut milk, a cup of water and the salt to the pan. Stir again and bring the mixture to a boil for two minutes, cover and then turn the heat to low and cook for another 15 minutes without lifting the lid.
Turn off heat. Keep covered for an additional 10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 652 calories; 27 g fat (17 g saturated fat; 37 percent calories from fat); 90 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 498 mg sodium; 12 g protein; 2 g fiber.