Hi all — I’m still sorting out some technical issues on my end, which I hope to resolve in the coming week, but since I am still able to blog with some workarounds, I’m posting this recipe. (If you notice any oddities or changes to this site as the days continue, please be patient!)
Growing up, I was pretty familiar with the taste of “jeera,” which is Hindi for cumin. It plays a fairly dominant role in Indian — well, at least North Indian — cuisine. Sometimes it’s more subtle, mingling with multiple spices in certain dishes. And in other dishes, like this rice dish, it’s the star.
The thing I like the most about jeera rice is that it falls into a category I think we should all have up our sleeves: Simple, but special. It’s an elegant solution to dressing up rice — you can easily serve it as a side while hosting guests or you could just as easily whip it up to make your homemade meal for one or two feel a little nicer.
I’ve made jeera rice in both types of situations. It adds a little excitement to the dinner table but lacks the extra effort required to make a biryani or pulao. And you can change it up a little bit too. In its simplest form, you just let some cumin seeds simmer in oil, add rice and water and let it cook. But there are times where you might want to add more. As seen in the pictures here, I often like to add onions and peas to the equation. At the end of the day, that’s your choice to make — my recipe will just tell you when to add the ingredients you desire (the cumin remains the one non-negotiable element though).
I cook this rice on the stovetop, just like I do all my rice, because I’ve never been particularly big on rice cookers. Also, like the majority of the Indian recipes on this site (which I learned from my parents), I was never given precise instructions on how to make this dish. I had a basic set of ingredients to use and the order in which to add them to the pot. But I did take note of some measurements while making the batch I photographed for this entry, so that should help the first couple of times you make jeera rice. After that, you’ll probably grow comfortable figuring out how much of everything you need depending on how many people you’re cooking for.
This rice goes well with plenty of Indian dishes, but it should also go well with food from other regions with a similar flavor profile. I’ve paired it with chicken tikka masala in the past, which might work well for you.
- Serves 4 to 6 depending on how hungry you are
- 1/2 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 3/4 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup white Basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 or full small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- Rinse the rice before cooking
- 1. Add the oil to an appropriately sized pot or saucepan on low-medium heat.
- 2. Next, add the cumin seeds, which will start to sizzle and take on a slightly golden hue. Stir slightly.
- 3. If you're using onions and/or peas, add the onion slices once the cumin fragrance starts to fill the room (make sure the seeds are not burning). Stir the onion and cumin seeds together. When the onion starts to look a little golden, you can add the peas to the mix and stir.
- 4. Add the rice about 30 seconds after you've added the peas, followed by a splash of water and some salt (I think I used a little more than 1/4 teaspoon), stir everything together and add all the remaining water so that all the ingredients are submerged in it.*
- 5. Stir everything together one more time, then cover the rice and cook on medium heat. You should periodically check on the rice and stir it as it absorbs more water and cooks.
- 6. Once it's done, turn the heat off. Fluff the rice a little bit before serving.
- * If you're skipping the onions and peas, make sure you add the rice shortly after the cumin seeds start to glisten and grow fragrant. The key is to make sure you don't burn them. And if you choose to skip the onions but want the peas, follow a similar approach.
- If you're increasing or decreasing the portions of this recipe, just make sure you cook the rice using a 2:1 ratio (ie: 2 cups water for 1 cup rice, 4 cups water for 2 cups rice, etc.) The rest can be easily figured out by eyeballing.
- Adapted from Mama Rad
Song Pairing: Blur, “Beetlebum”
My decision to put this song here is really mostly influenced by the realization that Blur’s self-titled album is 20 years old (where does the time go?) but still stands the test of time. This opening track is one of my favorites and kind of perfect for singing along to while prepping a dish of this nature (and then you can just rock out to “Song 2” if you keep listening to the rest of the album…)