I have for you today one of my most delicious, most favorite and yet easiest rice recipes. It's the one that I make for special family meals almost every weekend, and often when I'm entertaining guests: Jeera Rice, a stunningly flavorful pilaf that goes beautifully with any Indian curry.
This is a spectacular dish, with specks of earthy, fragrant cumin hugging fluffy grains of rice. And it's beyond easy to make. The most basic version of this dish, which I make most often, requires just three ingredients -- rice, cumin, and oil. Today I'm not only sharing that basic dish with you -- I am also giving you a few options for additions that you can make to vary this dish for different occasions, and make it even more special.
This is barely even a recipe because all you need to do is turn on the stove, plunk a pan on it, and add things out of jars. Fifteen minutes later, you have a finished, and delicious dish, on hand. But there's just something immensely addictive about the alchemy that cumin and rice create over heat. The earthy, distinct flavor and aroma of cumin permeates the rice, making it a perfect accompaniment for almost any spicy curry.
This Jeera Rice is perfect to make in a hurry when you have a dinner that requires making other elaborate dishes. When I have guests over, I start this just before they arrive so it can be hot and fluffy and fresh for them by the time we sit down to eat. But you can certainly make this ahead as well.
Ingredients for Jeera Rice:
- Basmati rice: When you want a recipe with long, separate grains of rice that look elegant, taste delicious, and have an appetizing aroma, always use basmati rice. This long-grain Indian rice does not express as much starch during cooking as some of its other rice counterparts can do, making it less sticky, and it will give you great results each time.
- Cumin seeds: These are the star of the recipe, contributing that beautiful, warm, earthy flavor and an intense, appetizing aroma.
- Vegetable oil: Always use a flavorless oil like avocado. Safflower, sunflower, peanut and canola oils work as well.
- Green cardamom pods: These will compete a little with the cumin for attention, but they will also enhance the dish further and make it even more aromatic, so use them if you like them.
- Bay leaf: For even more appetizing aroma.
- Ground black pepper (pepper and cumin are a classic combination in Indian cooking, for good reason, because they complement each other beautifully)
- Saffron (for really special occasions, saffron adds a nice hint of color and immediately elevates this dish).
Won't the rice stick after cooking if I don't soak it?
It won't. Sauteing the grains of rice in a tiny bit of oil until they are opaque before you add the water ensures that the rice grains will fluff up separately and not clump together. After the cooking time is over, and just before serving, fluff out the grains gently with a fork.
What is the ratio of rice to water for perfect rice?
When I make my rice on the stovetop, I always use a ratio of 2:1, except for rice that's been pre-soaked (which would require less, since the grains have already absorbed water). This gives you perfectly fluffy rice, but you also have to make sure you follow the steps carefully, like not opening the lid during cooking and letting the rice stand for at least 10 minutes after turning off the heat.
What do I serve this Jeera Rice with?
You can find more ideas on my vegan Indian curries page.
- Vegetable Fried Rice in 15 minutes
- Vegan Jambalaya
- Coconut Rice
- Persian Rice with Saffron and Asparagus
- Vegetable Biryani
- Instant Pot Khichdi
Jeera Rice | Cumin Rice
Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice
- Large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cups basmati rice (you can make this with brown rice too. See recipe notes below for instructions)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
- 4 green cardamom pods (optional)
- 1 large bay leaf (optional)
- 4 cloves (optional)
- A generous pinch saffron (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or any salt you like (use more or less per your taste, I find 1 teaspoon just enough to salt this pleasantly without making it too salty).
- 4 cups water (vegetable stock is fine too and even better)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds. Once they start to change color, add the other spices (if using all or some of them) at this point, one by one, and stir to mix in the end. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
- Add the rice to the saucepan and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the rice starts to turn opaque.
- Add four cups of water and the salt, stir, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes, never removing the lid from the pan.
- Once you turn off the heat, don't yet take the lid off. Wait at least 10 minutes, then open and fluff the grains of rice with a fork to separate.
- Serve hot.