Tomato Biryani

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Tomato biryani is a one-pot spiced South Indian style delicious biryani made with rice, tomatoes, coconut milk, veggies, herbs and spices. Unlike the regular Veg Dum Biryani, this tomato biryani recipe is not layered and dum cooked. Gluten-free and vegan.

tomato biryani served in a pan

About This Tomato Biryani

There are many ways tomato biryani aka thakkali biryani can be made. My recipe is one of the easiest version and is a delicious biryani cooked in one pot or pan. So fewer pots and pans to clean.

The entire recipe is made in a thick-bottomed pot or pan. Covered with a tight-fitting lid and slow-cooked.

If in a hurry, you can use a pressure cooker to make the same recipe. You can also choose to make this thakkali biryani in Instant pot. The recipe is loosely adapted from both my Tomato Pulao and Tomato Baath.

In this tomato biryani thick coconut milk is added to balance the tang of the tomatoes. Thus the biryani has a light taste of tomatoes and not overpowering. Coconut milk makes the rice taste good and rich, but if you do not have coconut milk, then just skip it and add water. You can also use vegetable stock instead of water.

Mixed veggies like peas, carrots, corn, baby corn, cauliflower, etc can be added to the biryani or you can keep it plain.

tomato biryani served in a bowl

In fact, This tomato biryani makes for a good tiffin box lunch too. Pair with a pickle or a veggie salad in the tiffin box. If serving for lunch or dinner, then you can pair with a raita or pickle or a salad.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Tomato Biryani

Soak Rice and Make Tomato Puree

1. Rinse a couple of times and soak 1 cup seeraga samba rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. You can even use basmati rice or sona masuri rice or any non-sticky rice.

After 20 to 30 minutes, drain all the water from the rice and keep it aside.

soaked rice

2. Rinse and chop 2 large sized tomatoes (approx 1 cup chopped tomatoes). Add them to a blender or grinder jar.

tomatoes in a blender

3. Blend to a smooth puree. If you do not have a blender or grinder, then you can even mince or grate the tomatoes.

tomato puree

More Prep

4. These are the spices that we will be adding to the tomato biryani. Skip stone flower if you do not have it. Remove and keep the below mentioned whole spices aside.

  • 1.5 inches cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 small to medium sized tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • A small tiny piece of stone flower (optional)
  • 2 single strands of mace
various spices in a plate

Sautéing Aromatics

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a thick-bottomed pot or pan. Please do use a thick bottomed pan, otherwise, there are chances that the rice can get browned or burnt from the bottom.

Add all the whole spices and saute them till they crackle and turn fragrant on low heat. Ensure that the spices don’t burn.

whole spices in a pressure cooker

6. Then add ¼ cup thinly sliced onions.

onions added

7. Saute onions stirring often on low to medium-low heat till they begin to get golden.

sauteing onions

8. Add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Stir and mix well.

ginger garlic paste added

9. Then add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves and 1 green chili (chopped). Again mix well.

herbs added

Sautéing Tomato Puree

10. Add the tomato puree. If using store brought tomato puree, then add ½ cup tomato puree. Stir and mix again.

adding tomato puree

11. Now add the following spice powders:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
added spices powders

12. Stir and mix the spice powders very well with the mixture of tomato puree and other ingredients.

mix the masala with tomato puree

13. Stir and saute for 2 minutes.

saute tomato biryani masala

Add Rice and Veggies

14. Now add ¾ to 1 cup of chopped veggies. I used green peas and potatoes. Stir and mix again.

Apart from potatoes and peas, you can add mixed veggies like carrots, baby corn, sweet corn, broccoli, cauliflower to make the dish more flavorful and nutritious.

veggies added

15. Add the soaked rice.

rice added

16. Stir and mix the rice with the rest of the tomato masala gravy.

mixing rice with the rest of the tomato masala gravy

Adding Liquids

17. Add 1.5 cups of water. For a softer texture in the rice, you can add ¼ cup more of the water.

rice added

18. Then add ½ cup thick coconut milk and salt as per taste. If skipping coconut milk, then overall add 1.75 to 2 cups depending on the quality of rice. You can also use veg stock instead of water.

Coconut milk gives a very good flavor and balances the tanginess of tomatoes. So I highly recommend adding coconut milk.

coconut milk added

19. Stir and mix very well. Check the taste of the water and it should be slightly salty. If not, then add a bit more salt.

mixing tomato biryani

Cooking Tomato Biryani

20. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook tomato biryani on slow heat for 18 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.

Time will vary depending on the size of the pan, the thickness of the pan and the intensity of heat. You can check the rice grains once or twice with a fork while cooking.

cooking tomato biryani in a closed pan

21. Once all the liquids have been absorbed and the rice grains are tender, remove the lid. Then gently fluff the rice with a fork.

In the photo below what you see is a moist oily consistency in the rice. This is due to the coconut milk settling on the top. Once you fluff the rice, this moist consistency will get distributed throughout the whole biryani.

cooked tomato biryani

22. Serve tomato biryani hot or warm with some pickle or yogurt or raita of your choice. It can also be packed for lunch box.

It makes for a healthy, satisfying and comforting meal.

tomato biryani

Few more similar recipes you may like are:

  • Tomato Rice – spicy and tasty South Indian style tomato rice.
  • Biryani – Hyderabadi style veg dum biryani.
  • Pudina Rice – spicy and tasty one pot fragrant mint rice.
  • Mushroom biryani – spicy and tasty vegetarian version of Chettinad biryani made with mushrooms.
  • Paneer biryani – this is a mildly spiced and delicious dum cooked paneer biryani.

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tomato biryani

Tomato Biryani

4.67 from 3 votes
Tomato biryani or thakkali biryani is a one-pot spiced South Indian style delicious biryani made with rice, tomatoes, coconut milk, veggies, herbs and spices
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Cuisine South Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • 1 cup seeraga samba rice – 200 grams, can use basmati rice instead
  • 150 grams tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes or 1 cup chopped tomatoes or ½ cup tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons oil – sesame oil, peanut oil or sunflower oil
  • 35 grams onions or 1 small onion or ¼ cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1 green chili – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 inch medium potato chopped in small cubes
  • cup green peas – fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups water or add as required
  • salt as required

Whole spices

  • 1.5 inches cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tej patta small to medium sized
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 small tiny pieces stone flower – pathar phool, optional
  • 2 single strands of mace

Instructions

Preparation

  • Rinse a couple of times and then soak seeraga samba rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. You can even use basmati rice or sona masuri rice. 
  • After 20 to 30 minutes, drain the rice of all the water and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, rinse and chop the tomatoes. Add them in a blender or grinder jar.
  • Blend to a smooth puree. If you do not have a blender or grinder, then you can even mince or grate the tomatoes.
  • Remove and keep the whole spices aside.
  • Slice one small onion thinly and keep aside. Also chop one green chili.

Making Tomato Biryani

  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pot or pan. Please do use a thick bottomed pan, otherwise the rice can get browned or burnt from the bottom while cooking.
  • Add all the whole spices and saute them till they crackle and turn fragrant.
  • Now add the sliced onions. Sauté onions stirring often till they begin to get golden.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and mix well.
  • Then add chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves and 1 green chili (chopped). Mix again.
  • Add the prepared tomato puree. If using canned tomato puree, then add ½ cup tomato puree. Mix again.
  • Now add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder.
  • Mix the ground spices very well with the mixture of tomato puree and other ingredients.
  • Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Now add ¾ to 1 cup of the chopped veggies. I used green peas and potatoes. Mix again.
  • Add the soaked rice. Mix the rice with the rest of the tomato masala gravy.
  • Add water and the thick coconut milk and salt as per taste. Mix very well.
  • Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook the biryani on a slow heat for 18 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.
  • Once done, remove the lid. Then gently fluff the rice.
  • Serve tomato biryani hot with some pickle or yogurt or raita of your choice.

Notes

  • If you do not have coconut milk, then just skip it and add water or homemade vegetable stock.
  • Instead of oil, you can use ghee for a vegetarian version.
  • You can also add mix veggies like green peas (fresh or frozen), carrots, sweet corn, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower etc.
  • The amount of spices can be varied as per your taste preferences.
  • You can also make it in a stovetop pressure cooker or Instant pot adding water as needed.
  • The recipe can be scaled as per your requirements.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Tomato Biryani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 503 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Sodium 466mg20%
Potassium 693mg20%
Carbohydrates 76g25%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 685IU14%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 3mg15%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 32mg39%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 11µg10%
Calcium 78mg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 45µg11%
Iron 4mg22%
Magnesium 75mg19%
Phosphorus 197mg20%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Tomato Biryani post from the archives (July 2016) has been republished and updated on 2 October 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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16 Comments

    1. it helps to balance the acidity and tang of the tomatoes and give a good taste. you can also skip, but there will be some loss in the overall flavor profile of the tomato biryani recipe. alternatively you can grind 1/4 cup fresh coconut or desiccated coconut with the tomatoes.

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