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.
There are many ways tomato 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 tomato biryani in Instant pot. The recipe is loosely adapted from both my Tomato pulao and Tomato bath.
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.
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.
How to make tomato biryani
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.
2. Rinse and chop 2 large sized tomatoes (approx 1 cup chopped tomatoes). Add them to a blender or grinder jar.
3. Blend to a smooth puree. If you do not have a blender or grinder, then you can even mince or grate the tomatoes.
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
Making tomato biryani
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.
6. Then add ¼ cup thinly sliced onions.
7. Saute onions stirring often on low to medium-low heat till they begin to get golden.
8. Add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Stir and mix well.
9. Then add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves and 1 green chili (chopped). Again mix well.
10. Add the tomato puree. If using store brought tomato puree, then add ½ cup tomato puree. Stir and mix again.
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
12. Stir and mix the spice powders very well with the mixture of tomato puree and other ingredients.
13. Stir and saute for 2 minutes.
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.
15. Add the soaked rice.
16. Stir and mix the rice with the rest of the tomato masala gravy.
Cooking Tomato Biryani
17. Add 1.5 cups of water. For a softer texture in the rice, you can add ¼ cup more of the water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is a one-pot spiced South Indian style delicious biryani made with rice, tomatoes, coconut milk, veggies, herbs and spices
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Rinse a couple of times and then soak 1 cup seeraga samba rice in water for 30 minutes. You can even use basmati rice or sona masuri rice.
After 30 minutes, drain the rice of all the water and keep 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 2 tablespoons 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.
Now add ¼ cup sliced onions. Saute onions till they begin to get golden.
Add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Mix well.
Then add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves and 1 green chili (chopped). Mix well.
Add the tomato puree. If using ready tomato puree, then add 1/2 cup tomato puree. Mix again.
Now add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder.
Mix the masalas very well with the mixture of tomato puree and other ingredients.
Stir and saute for 2 minutes.
Now add ¾ to 1 cup of chopped veggies. I used green peas and potatoes. Mix again.
Add rice. Mix the rice with the rest of the tomato masala gravy.
Add 1.5 cups water. then add 1/2 cup 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 flame 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 raita of your choice.
- If you do not have coconut milk, then just skip it and add water.
- 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.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 503 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
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%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 45µg11%
* 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.