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I could use all sorts of fancy words to explain this dish, but the best description is this: pizza in rice form. The inspiration for the recipe, though, is oddly enough not Italian — it’s a hybrid of a classic South Indian tomato rice with onions and a shockingly fantastic Spanish rice recipe my mom and I photocopied out of my seventh-grade Spanish textbook for a school project. The crispy, bubbly, broiled cheddar topping (use the sharpest white cheddar you can find!) adds a little somethin’ somethin’, making it a worthy dinner party dish. The lovely photographer of this very book, Mackenzie Kelley, called it “even better than pizza” (!!!!).
Related: 8 Ingredients for Mastering Priya Krishan’s Indian-Ish Recipes — and Where to Buy Them
Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar
- 2 tablespoons
small yellow onion, finely chopped
small Indian green chile or serrano chile, finely chopped
medium Roma tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon
- 3 cups
cooked basmati rice (from about 1 cup dry rice)
- 1 cup
shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Adjust an oven rack to the highest position and preheat the oven to 500ºF.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and chile, spread them out in an even layer in the pan, and cook until the onion becomes translucent and starts to lightly char, 5 to 7 minutes.
Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes, using the back of a spoon to lightly crush them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down into a chunky sauce, 5 to 6 minutes, then add the salt.
Put the cooked rice in an 8-inch square (or similar size) baking dish, then fold in the tomato sauce. (You can also do the folding in a separate bowl and then transfer the rice to the baking dish, if you doubt your ability to not spill rice and sauce everywhere.) Evenly distribute the grated cheese over the top.
Switch the oven to broil and place the baking dish on the top oven rack. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the top bubbles and turns golden brown. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from INDIAN-ISH: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family © 2019 by Priya Krishna with Ritu Krishna. Photography © 2019 by Mackenzie Kelley. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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