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?
Jeera rice goes perfectly with almost any spicy north Indian curry, like Chana Masala, Navratan Korma, Tofu Makhani, Vegan Butter Chicken, or Sarson ka Saag.
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.
This recipe is very good. I am impressed of the result. It will be my go to jeera rice.
I can't figure out why this rice is so good but it is! I've made it a few times, most recently I used cumin, curry leaves and cardamom pods. It never disappoints!
Sounds delicious! Can I cook in a cooker?
Hi Prathibha, you certainly can, but make sure you don't overcook so the rice grains remain separate.
OMG, this recipe is phenomenal!! Easy to put together and I absolutely love the flavors! I’d give it 10 stars if I could.
Can I make this with long grain rice?(I do not have basmati at hand right now).
Yes. Basmati grains will remain more separate, but any long grain rice would work. Medium grain rice is more likely to clump.
How would the results be using leftover brown basmati rice? I love to make use of what I have on hand with your Green Tomato Stew recipe. ?
It'll be great with brown basmati. Increase water to 5 cups and cook for longer--about 45 minutes.
Is the cooking time for brown basmati rice reallly 30 more minutes than the white basmati? Seems like a long time. Can't wait to try this, sounds amazing. Just found your site today. Thank you it's amazing!
Thanks, I really like this recipe!
I had never made rice this way before (I was a boil and drain gal before getting my rice cooker). I was making it fur a party for 20 people and was kicking myself for not trying it out in advance (since I was making a double batch) but it was PERFECT! I added in all the extras and I did peek twice but it came out perfect.
Wow, your recepies sound so delughtful,! I'm vegetarian and my daughter is vegan. Can't wait to cook up a storm!
I have such a hard time cooking rice! It always seems to come out sticky for me, no matter what method I use. I don't think I've ever tried this method, though, so I absolutely can't wait to try it. Thanks, Vaishali!
Hi Lyn, be sure to saute the rice at the start, so it turns opaque -- it's in the instructions. That'll help keep it from getting too sticky.
Cooked this myself yesterday using white basmati rice. It was practically effortless to make and tasted so good. Thanks a lot for the recipe.
Amazed how simple this was and how stunning. I know it says eight servings but our family of four almost finished this at dinner. Wow is all I can say.
Made this full recipe with all the optionals for dinner and it turned out so well even my fussy 3 year old grandson loved it! Thanks so much
Awesome, so happy to hear! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
The recipe calls for 2 cups rice and 2 cups water. Is that correct, since you noted a 2:1 ratio?
Thanks liking forward to trying it.
My bad, thanks for your sharp eye! It's four cups, corrected now. 🙂
Always a favorite - Jeera Rice.
Thank you for the recipe and for the numerous other recipes that are so helpful.
Just wanted to point out a typo error in the rice recipe - the ingredients list mentions 2 Cups of Rice and the instructions say add 2 cups of water... just wanted to politely bring this typo to your attention. ?
Thanks, Neeta, I've corrected it. 🙂
How would this work with brown rice...maybe brown basmati?
Love this type of dish...leaning towards a method...which gets me thinking how I can adjust it using other seeds/grains.
You can absolutely make this with brown rice. Use 3 cups of water for each cup of rice, and cook for 45 minutes instead of 15.
Sounds good. Wouldn't it be easier to cook this in a pressure cooker though? If so, how can I allow for that? Ratios, time cooked, etc.?
Use the same ratio of water and rice, and cook for two whistles if you have that type of pressure cooker, or for about 6 minutes after reaching pressure (check your manufacturer's chart for cooking white or brown rice, depending on what you use.)