Posted by: Erica Retrochef | April 8, 2013

Tomato Rice

This very early Minute Rice advertisement comes from Life Magazine, and one of the things that struck me about it was how strongly the ad design and style resembles an actual article, at least on first glance. Black and white photographs with detailed captions, and a relatively wordy page. (Later Minute Rice ads would be either slightly more cartoony, or be just large pictures of plates of food.)


I was wondering just how old Minute Rice is — and according to Wikipedia, it was released on store shelves in 1949, so this ad is for a product less than a year old. A little more Googling turned up the interesting story of Ataullah Durrani, an Afghani chemist who invented and perfected the process of parboiling rice. (Thankfully, it’s one of those stories that ends with, “he made millions,” rather than, “General Foods stole his process and left him with nothing.”)


BUSY-DAY LUNCH … IN 16 MINUTES. Tomato Rice is a rosy, appetizing dish for 4 … on the table in jig-time. Saute 1/4 cup finely diced onion in 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1-1/2 cups Minute Rice, 2 cups seasoned tomato juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, dash pepper, 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Bring to full boil, remove from heat, cover, let stand 10 minutes. Serve with crisp bacon. You’ll taste a new kind of lusciousness — for Minute Rice absorbs all the tomato flavor and color — something no other rice can do.

As Buzz noted when we made Apricot Rice, the idea that no other rice can absorb flavor and color is pretty bizarre. But we’ll forgive them some hyperbole and try this anyway.


The kids have decided that they don’t like onions, so this is something of a risky recipe. I’m hoping the onions will also absorb the flavor and color, so they’ll be too distracted and disgusted by the V8 juice to notice…


Finely-diced onions were very quickly sautéed. I think it was faster to cook them than to chop them, actually.


We then added the rice and tomato juice, and brought it to a boil, and then waited ten minutes.


Much to my surprise, this came out very well. The strong flavor in V8 juice was mellowed out by the rice, and it paired nicely with the bacon. Hilariously, it was the baby who loved this the most, although he largely showed his appreciation by managing to get it all in his mouth instead of in his hair like most food.

Well done, Mr. Durrani!

From Minute Rice advertisement in Life Magazine, December 12, 1949 (page 5).


  1. I’m surprised, too! I loathe tomato juice, though I suppose if you do like it, this recipe can be tarted up in different ways. Seems a waste of good bacon, though.

  2. I grew up on Ukrainian cabbage rolls and they were much the same thing just rolled in steamed cabbage. We used regular rice and just slow cooked them in the oven for a few hours.

  3. Spanish (or Mexican) rice both have tomato sauce in them, plus a few seasoning vegetables. And both are excellent!

    • We love Spanish rice, although this definitely lacked the kick that Spanish rice is supposed to have.

  4. I grew up eating Spanish Rice, it has celery and the onion sauteed in bacon grease-just a bit- and some green pepper. There wasn’t any bacon in it, and sometimes ground lean beef was added to the veggies for a casserole. Good stuff.

  5. This sounds all kinds of tasty. Since I don’t do meat, I would leave out the bacon and add some cheese for a savory, gooey delicacy. OK, my mouth just watered all over my keyboard.

  6. This looks good. I don’t like tomato juice to drink, but that’s because it feels like I’m drinking cold tomato soup. Heating it up and cooking with it has always seemed to me the best use for the stuff.

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