I have a number of rice dishes that use tomato-based liquids (tomato soup or tomato sauce) or semi-liquids (tomato paste) as part of the cooking process.

I use the amount of water called for on the bag of rice (typically a 1.5 to 1.75 ratio of water to rice) in addition to the liquid/semi-liquid in the recipe. So the rice is getting more liquid than normal to start.

Regardless of the cooking method - stovetop or oven-baked - I have to add more water at the end of the cooking time because the rice isn't done yet and it's absorbed all the existing liquid. I usually add another .5 to .75 worth of liquid and have to cook it an estimated 25% longer. Even then, the rice is still al dente, just barely cooked.

Is there a ratio for how much extra water and time is required when cooking rice with tomato-based liquids/semi-liquids?

  • Do you use a rice cooker or a normal pot (with or without a lid)?
    – John Doe
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:07
  • Are you sure that the rice is "just barely cooked"? Have you ever been able to cook it to a state which you call "cooked"? Or is it possible that you are expecting that rice cooked in tomato sauce will have the same texture as rice cooked in water?
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:24
  • @JohnW. Stovetop method is a pot with a lid. Oven-baked is either with a lid or wrapped in foil.
    – J007B
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:35
  • @rumtscho I have achieved a fully cooked texture on the majority of the rice when I keep adding extra water and cooking time (multiple additions of water and multiple 5-10 minute increments). I don't recall it being the same amount of water or same cooking time extension all the time. Fully cooked texture, for me, is when I bite into it, the rice doesn't crunch or feel like eating dry or partially cooked pasta.
    – J007B
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:39
  • 1
    @JC007B OK, then my first thought is not applicable in your case. Plant-based foods can get quite firm when cooked in an acidic liquid, but they are not crunchy.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


I think it's hard to estimate an exact ratio for the process you described, as tomato paste, tomato sauce and tomato soup all have varying water content, probably even between iterations of the dish. I would take a "risotto-style approach" here (or similar to Indian dhal): start cooking the rice with the other ingredient, reduce to low-medium heat, then regularly stir and replace liquid that's absorbed or steams off until the rice is done to your liking. I would maybe use a light vegetable stock instead of pure water that's kept at a simmer to maintain the temperature better.

The reason: there's too many variables here. If there are additional vegetables with high water content in the dish, this might require less liquid, etc. It is slightly more work because you need to keep an eye out for the doneness and liquid level, but it should be relatively foolproof.

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