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Tomato Curry With Coconut Rice

by . Featured in KITCHEN
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Introduction

Not being a vegetarian, I have a rather indelicate lack of faith in meatless main courses; I worry all too readily about whether it's going to be filling enough. I suppose this is habit, which in turn is largely cultural conditioning but, beyond that even, my fear is to do with balance: I need to feel sure that everything on the table provides a true marriage of tastes and textures; I can't abide the one-note meal. Here I'm happy: the acid brightness of the tomatoes is met with the sweetness of peas and the rich creaminess of the coconut rice, which is itself pricked with the sharpness of lime, while its carrara-whiteness is punctuated by the gritty blackness of the seeds (not there just to satisfy culinary egomania).

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Not being a vegetarian, I have a rather indelicate lack of faith in meatless main courses; I worry all too readily about whether it's going to be filling enough. I suppose this is habit, which in turn is largely cultural conditioning but, beyond that even, my fear is to do with balance: I need to feel sure that everything on the table provides a true marriage of tastes and textures; I can't abide the one-note meal. Here I'm happy: the acid brightness of the tomatoes is met with the sweetness of peas and the rich creaminess of the coconut rice, which is itself pricked with the sharpness of lime, while its carrara-whiteness is punctuated by the gritty blackness of the seeds (not there just to satisfy culinary egomania).

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Tomato Curry With Coconut Rice
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Metric Cups

For the Curry

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or cold pressed rapeseed oil)
  • 2 large onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 kilogram cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon english mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 200 grams frozen peas

For the Coconut Rice

  • 1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
  • 4 spring onions (finely sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (or black mustard seeds)
  • 300 grams basmati rice
  • 1 x 400 millilitres can coconut milk
  • 500 millilitres freshly boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • juice of 1 lime (or to taste)

For the Curry

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or cold pressed rapeseed oil)
  • 2 large onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 3½ pints cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon english mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1½ cups frozen peas

For the Coconut Rice

  • 1 tablespoon garlic flavored oil
  • 4 scallions (finely sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (or black mustard seeds)
  • 1½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 x 14 fluid ounces can coconut milk
  • 2 cups freshly boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • juice of 1 lime (or to taste)

Method

For the curry

  1. Heat the oil in a wide casserole or pan that comes with a lid, and add the chopped onions, sprinkling with salt, and stirring frequently as you cook them over a low to medium heat for about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chopped garlic, then add the halved tomatoes, before stirring in the spices, and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on over a low heat.
  3. Cook the peas in another pan (in boiling salted water as usual), drain and add to the tomato curry for the last 5 minutes’ cooking time. By all means cook the peas directly in the tomato curry, but be prepared then to sacrifice both the vivid red of the tomatoes and the bright green of the peas.

For the coconut rice

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy-based pan that has a lid, add the spring onions and nigella seeds (or black mustard seeds) and cook for a minute or so, pushing this way and that with a wooden spoon.
  2. Stir in the rice, letting it get slicked with oil and thoroughly mixed with the black-dotted green shreds.
  3. Pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and top up to the 1 litre mark with freshly boiled water, then add this to the rice, stirring it in with the salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and put on the lid. Cook for 15 minutes, by which time the rice should be cooked and the liquid absorbed. As the coconut milk is so rich, the grains of rice will be slightly sticky rather than dry, which is perfect with the bright acidity of the tomatoes. If you have time, though, you can cover the pan with a clean tea towel, sit the lid on top, and leave the pan, thus covered, on the still-warm but switched off hob for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Fluff up with a fork as you pour in the lime juice, and taste to see if you need either more salt or more lime.

For the curry

  1. Heat the oil in a wide casserole or pan that comes with a lid, and add the chopped onions, sprinkling with salt, and stirring frequently as you cook them over a low to medium heat for about 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chopped garlic, then add the halved tomatoes, before stirring in the spices, and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on over a low heat.
  3. Cook the peas in another pan (in boiling salted water as usual), drain and add to the tomato curry for the last 5 minutes’ cooking time. By all means cook the peas directly in the tomato curry, but be prepared then to sacrifice both the vivid red of the tomatoes and the bright green of the peas.

For the coconut rice

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy-based pan that has a lid, add the scallions and nigella seeds (or black mustard seeds) and cook for a minute or so, pushing this way and that with a wooden spoon.
  2. Stir in the rice, letting it get slicked with oil and thoroughly mixed with the black-dotted green shreds.
  3. Pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and top up to the 1 litre mark with freshly boiled water, then add this to the rice, stirring it in with the salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and put on the lid. Cook for 15 minutes, by which time the rice should be cooked and the liquid absorbed. As the coconut milk is so rich, the grains of rice will be slightly sticky rather than dry, which is perfect with the bright acidity of the tomatoes. If you have time, though, you can cover the pan with a clean tea towel, sit the lid on top, and leave the pan, thus covered, on the still-warm but switched off hob for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Fluff up with a fork as you pour in the lime juice, and taste to see if you need either more salt or more lime.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD:
The tomato base (not the peas) can be cooked 1 day ahead. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl, then cool, cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible. To reheat, return to saucepan and heat gently until piping hot. Cook and add peas as directed above.

FREEZE:
Cook and cool the tomatoes as above, then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat, adding the peas, as above.

MAKE AHEAD:
The tomato base (not the peas) can be cooked 1 day ahead. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl, then cool, cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible. To reheat, return to saucepan and heat gently until piping hot. Cook and add peas as directed above.

FREEZE:
Cook and cool the tomatoes as above, then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat, adding the peas, as above.

Tell us what you think

What 11 Others have said

  • One of my favourite meals! I only add 300ml to the coconut milk for the rice. For the curry I add 2 stalks celery, 1 large zucchini and 2 teaspoons powdered cumin & coriander, it just seems to need ‘something’. If I’m not cooking the rice I add the can of coconut milk to the tomatoes and cook with the lid off to reduce the liquid. Soooo yummy! Thanks Nigella, this is now a staple.

    Posted by jillperth on 20th November 2020
  • I do love this recipe. When it's cooled, there's a real sweetness to it, possibly from the tomatoes. I've made it about 4 times now and do agree with a couple of the other comments that 600ml water is too much alongside the tin of coconut milk. The first time I remember I took off the lid to evaporate the water off, so last night when I made it, I added a tin of water (so 400ml not 600ml) but next time I think I'll do the coconut milk and maybe 300ml water. A tin was about right though so I'm not far off!

    Posted by Krayola on 31st August 2020
  • Another great recipe from Nigella, I'm a huge fan of curries and this one is a winner, try adding ingredients or substituting the peas, the base sauce can be used with anything. I normally make a larger quantity of the rice and use the leftovers for fried rice or salads.

    Posted by 25113563hern on 27th June 2020
  • This recipe is an absolute stunner! The flavors are bright and aromatic, and the colors are very appealing. This is also one of the easiest curries to make because you don't have to make a paste or a sauce; the juicy tomatoes do all of the work! Nigella's vegetable recipes are creative, balanced, and truly craveable. This one is a fabulous case in point!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 31st May 2020
  • I've been using creamed coconut and adding it to 600ml of water (just as much as i want) and I actually think it's nicer.

    Posted by Jackisott on 30th May 2018
  • Hey Nigella, this is awesome, I have made this before many times and coconut rice is my favorite. Lots of love..

    Posted by Joy_Mondal on 1st July 2016
  • I too have made this several times and I love how easy and tasty it is - also I think more should be made of the fact that this is in fact totally vegan friendly (a thought which only occurred to me after I'd already made it a few times just for me and my boyfriend, both of us being meat eaters). I love tomatoey sauces anyway, especially in curry form, and the coconut rice is perfect as an accompaniment.

    Posted by stephjl4 on 25th November 2013
  • I love this recipe because its soo easy to make as well as the method.. I am from the middle east and i am big fan of you Nigella.

    Posted by ameera8899 on 25th November 2013
  • I made the Coconut rice to go with some steamed fish - although I did not have Nigella Seeds or Black Mustard Seeds - only Yellow Mustard Seeds this was so delish I shall be making again and again xoxo Thank you Nigella for this tasty rice.

    Posted by Rayleen on 9th January 2013
  • I'll give this a go tomorrow, and I'll add some diced eggplant to " beef" it up a bit.

    Posted by Ajmcolwell on 4th February 2012
  • This recipe is fantastic. I've made it countless times, even for guests coming over and all are surprised in the fact that you don't miss not having meat in this dish!!! The flavours explode in your mouth!!! A must try!

    Posted by cheesy chef on 16th June 2011
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