Posted on: October 2, 2021 Posted by: Joven Comments: 0

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 recipe

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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 for making tomato biryani

13. Stir and saute for 2 minutes.

saute tomato biryani masala

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 for tomato biryani

15. Add the soaked rice.

rice for tomato biryani

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

preparing tomato biryani

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.

rice for tomato biryani recipe

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 for tomato biryani

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.

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

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.

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 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



Servings 3

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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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