A bit of tang from fresh tomatoes, lots of flavour from spices, loads of fibre and its gorgeous colours make this Persian tomato rice recipe one of my all time favourites. It’s so nutrient-rich and pretty. I love the orange colour and the specks of green from the peas.
I often make this either as a vegetarian/vegan course or as a side for grilled or barbecued chicken. And I use different kinds of rice, even risoni, and all are really good. The key is to make a good flavour base with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and spices.
One can always use tinned tomatoes but using fresh tomatoes makes the dish so much tastier. There is a bit of tang in fresh, even slightly unripe, tomatoes that really helps with the flavour. I purée the tomatoes in a food processor, with skin and seeds. The rest is very easy. You just put all the ingredients in the same pan you used to sauté the onions and cook until the rice is cooked through and fluffy.
The Iranian way is to cook dami-ye gojeh in a non-stick coated pot and steam it until a crust (tahdig) forms in the bottom. We turn it out on a plate like a cake and cut it into wedges. I love tahdig but prefer to cook this one in a large deep lidded frying pan. This way I can cut out some of the oil as proper tahdig needs a bit more oil to caramelise well.
Last time I made this we had it two ways: with cooling minty yoghurt and cucumbers (vegetarian) and with shredded roast chicken. I love it both ways. So let’s get cooking! Cooking with half oil, half butter will make it even tastier so go for it if you like.
To serve four as a main or side for 4-6 people you will need the following ingredients:
- 260g basmati or other long-grain rice
- 500ml water
- 11/4 tsp salt
- 700g firm tomatoes (yes, that’s a lot!)
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 250g brown mushrooms, cut into cubes
- 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped or grated
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil (like rapeseed or grape seed oil)
- 1/2 tsp ground or whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp mild chilli powder, paprika or Kashmiri red pepper if you have it
- 200g firm potatoes, cut into small cubes
- 150g peas or petite pois, fresh or frozen
For the yoghurt with cucumbers and mint chop half an English cucumber and add to 250ml yoghurt (natural, Greek-style, low-fat, full fat, whatever you like). Add a teaspoonful of dried mint and season with salt and pepper. Let stand while the rice is steaming to blend the flavours.
- Put the rice in a bowl and fill the bow with cold water. Rub the rice between palms very gently. Drain the cloudy water and repeat two or three times until the water is clear. Add all the water and the salt. Stir gently and let stand at least for half an hour, even up to four hours.
- Put the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions on medium heat until slightly golden. Add the mushrooms and the garlic and sauté for three to four minutes. Add all the spices and cook for a minute or two until you can smell the turmeric.
- Put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and purée well.
- Add the rice with the water it has been soaking in, puréed tomatoes, peas and cubed potatoes to the onion and mushrooms and bring to the boil over medium heat. Stir very gently from time to time so it doesn’t catch in the bottom.
- When all the water is absorbed cover the frying pan with a lid, turn down the heat to as low as you can and let the rice steam for about 20 minutes or until the grains are soft and fluffy. It all depends on the size of your pan and your burner so it make take a bit longer.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve with shredded roast chicken or yoghurt with cucumbers and mint.