5 Ingredients | 30 Minutes | Jeera rice (i.e. cumin infused basmati rice) is a staple in most Indian homes and restaurants. The perfect jeera rice is fluffy, but also discrete and delicious. No pressure cooker needed!
Growing up, the mantra around cumin was that it was “good for you” – so it’s no surprise that jeera rice (or zeera rice) is a staple in most Indian households. Indian restaurants often infuse their basmati rice with cumin, and it’s always so … perfect. Fluffy, discrete, and delicious. It’s also a great pairing for almost any Indian dish (though I’ll admit to just eating it by itself). It’s also vegan and gluten-free! Just look at the picture below. 👇
📋 Ingredients & variations
My recipe is from a friend from Delhi and uses just five things: basmati rice, ghee, jeera (cumin seeds), green chili peppers, and cilantro. If you’re vegan, you can replace the ghee with avocado oil.
Spice combinations: Sometimes, my mom will add a cinnamon stick while she toasts the rice. Other times, she’ll add shallots to make it more aromatic. She would also occasionally finish the rice with saffron. This recipe uses five basic ingredients. As for the rest? The world is your oyster!
Using pre-cooked basmati rice: It’s so simple to make jeera rice with pre-cooked basmati rice. In my recipe below, I first toast the spices, then toast the rice, and then cook that toasted rice. Alternatively, you can also toast the spices separately, and pour it over cooked basmati rice and mix it well. This is a great way to re-purpose day-old rice into the perfect Indian cumin rice.
📖 Three tips for perfect jeera rice
Choose the right rice and rinse it thoroughly
Basmati rice works the best for this dish because it’s a long grain variety, and it’s polished and aged. Rinsing the rice (typically three times) is really important to remove the extra starchiness (which, in turn, prevents it from clumping to each other). This way, when you cook it, it is ultra fluffy!
Fun fact: did you know that rice water can be a great way to conserve water and get nutrients to houseplants? The starch from leftover rice is good for bacteria in the soil and adds nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Just make sure you use room temperature water.
Soak the rice and use the right amount of water
I recommend letting it soak for about 20 minutes after rinsing to really let the rice absorb some of the room temperature water. This is key to getting that fluffy consistency, and to reduce the cooking time.
I can also literally hear my mom, “Just make sure you use 2x water for every cup of rice, Shruthi!” While that’s mostly accurate, there are some variations for making the perfect, fluffy rice.
If you’re cooking rice in a standard pot, 2 cups of water for every cup of basmati rice is fine. If you make this in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker, I suggest using 1/4 cup of water less – too much water can make it mushy.
Toast whole cumin seeds and rice in ghee or avocado oil
I typically use ghee since it’s so aromatic, but if you’re vegan, avocado oil works just as well. First, toast cumin seeds on a low to medium flame. This is one place where I suggest you try to get cumin seeds as much as possible. But Jacques Pepin has a version that works with cumin powder.
Then toss the rice in and toast the rice on a medium to high flame for about 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure you don’t stir or saute too much once you add the rice – this can cause the rice to break, and use a fork instead of a spoon!
🥣 Serving suggestions
I love to eat jeera rice by itself, since it’s so fragrant and delicious. But you can serve it with curries (like chana masala), simple lentils (like dal tadka – recipe coming soon!) or even mix it up with international flavors (like Ethiopian cabbage). Check out the recipes here for serving suggestions!Print
Jeera rice (i.e. cumin infused basmati rice) is a staple in Indian homes and fluffy, discrete and delicious. No pressure cooker needed!
- 1 cup of basmati rice
- 1/2 tbsp of ghee (or 1 tbsp of avocado oil)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (if you want it more fragrant, you can add more)
- 1 green chili pepper (Thai green chili preferred, finely chopped – sub with Serrano otherwise)
- ~2 cups of water (see notes)
- 1 tsp of salt (note: if your ghee is salted, you can omit this)
- 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro
- First, rinse the basmati rice thoroughly – at least 3x until the rinsed water runs mostly clear
- Cover the rinsed rice with fresh water and soak for at least 20 mins (and no longer than 30 mins)
- With five minutes to spare, in a medium pot that can hold the rice, heat ghee or avocado oil
- On low to medium flame, when the ghee or oil is hot, add cumin seeds and wait for it to sputter (it will start to smell delicious already)
- Add chopped green chili pepper and stir a couple of times – don’t let it brown, 20 seconds is good!
- Now, drain the rice and add it to the pot – don’t stir too much but toast the rice for a minute or two (stirring too much can break the rice, but you don’t want it to stick to the bottom)
- Transfer the toasted rice into another pot or the bowl where you soaked the rice
- Add water and salt to a pot (the water will be salty to taste) and bring to a boil
- Once the water is boiling (rolling bubbles on top) – cover and cook rice for about 4 to 6 minutes. I suggest checking after 4 minutes. If it looks mostly done, turn off the heat and let it sit uncovered for another minute or two.
- The water should have evaporated by now and the rice should be ready – top and mix with chopped cilantro and serve hot!
- If using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, add slightly more water (about 1/4 cup). For a pressure cooker, typically one whistle is sufficient. For Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- If Thai green chili peppers are unavailable, the next best option is Serrano peppers
- If you’d like to make this a one pot rice, then I suggest adding water directly to the pot after toasting rice, but in this case, you want to start the timer right after you add the water. Then, once the water starts boiling, just turn the heat down to medium and let it finish cooking.
- Category: Sides
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: jeera rice, cumin rice, zeera rice, indian cumin rice