Jeera Rice (Indian Cumin Rice)

This recipe for jeera rice is simple, yet oh-so-flavorful. Plain basmati rice is transformed with the warming, aromatic flavor of toasted cumin seeds and the sweet, buttery richness of ghee. Make this tasty Indian side dish today!

overhead: bowl of jeera rice garnished with parsley

Don’t let the simplicity of this jeera rice recipe fool you! With only 3 ingredients, this dish is easy to make but still exceptionally flavorful. The delicate fragrance of basmati rice sets the perfect stage to let the smokey, nutty warmth of the cumin seeds really shine. You are going to learn to appreciate cumin in a whole new way!

The secret to success with Indian cumin rice is the process of tempering the cumin seeds. This is a common practice in Indian Cuisine and helps unleash all the flavor in the spices. Check out my post on Indian Tadka if you’d like to learn more.

map of India

And for more delicious rice recipes check out my Greek Lemon Rice and this Persian Saffron Rice.

close up: fluffy grains of jeera rice recipe in copper bowl

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Basmati Rice – Long grain, white basmati is my favorite pick for this recipe. However, you can substitute another long-grain variety if needed. Avoid short grain varieties as they are way too starchy and lead to mushy rice. 
  • Ghee – Look for ghee, also called clarified butter, either with the other oils or in the international aisle. Butter works great as a substitute. 
  • Cumin Seeds – Infuse the dish with a delicate aromatic flavor and earthy warmth.

How to Make Jeera Rice

  1. Rinse & Soak. In a fine-meshed sieve, rinse the basmati rice under cold water several times until the water runs clear. Transfer the grains to a bowl and add enough water to cover by one inch. Set the bowl aside to soak for 30 minutes. 

Steamed Version

  1. Toast the Seeds. Place a large saucepan or skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Melt the butter or ghee, then add the cumin seeds. Cook the seeds until they begin to crackle, keeping a close eye on them to prevent burning. 
  2. Add the Rice. Now, add the rinsed, soaked, and drained rice and salt to the pan. Stir to mix and cook for about 2 minutes. 
  3. Bring to a Boil. Stir in 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, then promptly turn off the heat. Immediately cover with a lid and leave undisturbed for 40 minutes. No lifting of the lid, no matter how tempted you are!
  4. Fluff & Serve. After adequate time, remove the lid and use a fork to gently fluff the rice just before serving.

Boiled Version

  1. Cook the Rice. Fill a large Dutch oven or saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Stir in the soaked rice and salt, then return the pot to a boil. Reduce heat, keep uncovered, and simmer for 8-9 minutes. Drain the cooked rice in a colander and return it to the saucepan. 
  2. Toast the Cumin. Place a small skillet over medium heat along with the butter or ghee. Add the cumin seeds to the melted butter and cook until they begin to crackle. Make sure to watch closely so they don’t burn. 
  3. Pour & Mix. Pour the toasted cumin and butter mixture over the top of the rice. Use a spatula to gently but thoroughly mix.

Tip From Kevin

Interesting facts about cumin

Besides being a staple in Mexican cuisine, lending its bold flavor to salsas and meats, it’s also a cornerstone of Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, where it brings depth to curries and kebabs. This spice isn’t just a taste sensation; it aids digestion and may even help with weight loss! It also dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was used not only in cooking but also in mummification.

overhead: dish of jeera rice on colorful silk scarf

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I serve with Indian cumin rice?


Pair this jeera rice recipe with curries, roasted meats, or any of your favorite Indian dishes. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

– Serve with rich curries like Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken.
– Have alongside grilled meats like these Chicken Tikka or Koobideh Kabobs.
– For a vegetarian meal, serve with Chickpea Masala or Vegetable Jalfrezi Stir Fry
– Enjoy with stews like Instant Pot Lamb Stew or this tasty Chicken Tagine.
– Pair with lamb dishes like Lamb Shawarma and Lamb Vindaloo.

Who invented jeera rice?


While jeera, or Indian cumin rice, is wildly popular throughout India today, its origins go back a bit further. The earliest accounts of this simple, yet incredibly flavorful rice dish come from the books and travel logs of the ancient Mughal Empire. 

This Muslim empire ruled over large parts of South Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, from 1526 to 1858. This culture had an affinity towards rice dishes and liked to experiment to create new recipes, including this very jeera rice recipe. The combination of amazing flavor and simple preparation was a winning ticket. Jeera rice was quickly adopted into Indian cuisine and remains an integral part of it today.

What is the difference between jeera rice and biryani rice?


Jeera rice is a simple dish made by mixing long-grain rice, either boiled or steamed, with toasted cumin seeds and ghee. It is mild and earthy with a delicate aromatic flavor, making it perfect to serve with curries or other main dishes. 

Biryani rice, on the other hand, is a far more complex dish. It can contain any number of aromatic herbs and spices like cinnamon, saffron, cloves, garlic, ginger, and more. It also usually contains a variety of meat or vegetables that are layered and slow-cooked along with the rice, like in my Chicken Biryani. It has a much bolder flavor and usually serves as the main course.

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overhead: bowl of jeera rice garnished with parsley

Jeera Rice Recipe (Steamed or Boiled)

Jeera rice is a simple, delicious side dish made by combining tender, fluffy basmati rice, and buttery ghee with gently tempered cumin seeds.
Servings: 6
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 9 minutes
Total: 44 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Rinse uncooked rice several times in a sieve until water runs clear. Place in a bowl and add enough water to cover the grains by 1 inch. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Steamed version

  • In a saucepan or large skillet with tight fitting lid, melt the ghee or butter over medium heat. Add cumin seeds; cook until they start to crackle, watching closely to prevent burning. Add drained, soaked rice and salt, tossing to coat. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and turn off heat. Let sit for 40 minutes, undisturbed (no lifting of lid).
  • Remove lid and gently fluff rice with a fork or chopstick.

Boiled version

  • Bring a large saucepan or dutch oven of water to a boil, then add soaked rice and salt. Bring water back to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 8-9 minutes. Drain cooked rice into colander, then place back into large saucepan.
  • In a small skillet, melt ghee or butter over medium heat. Add cumin seeds; cook until they start to crackle, watching closely to prevent burning. Pour toasted cumin over boiled rice, and using a spatula, gently toss to coat.

Nutrition

Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 393mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): jeera rice indian cumin rice

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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