This jeera rice recipe features fluffy basmati rice seasoned with a tempered cumin tadka. Make this recipe for a flavorful Indian side dish.
Rice is a staple of the cuisine in India, used for breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.
It's an easy to cook ingredient, both economical and a great way to stretch a meal.
By tempering spices to pour over the top, or simply seasoning the rice with a single spice such as cumin, the humble ingredient becomes rich with Indian flavors!
Jeera Rice Recipe
Cuisine: Asian / Indian
Particularly in the northern countries of India, long grain basmati rice is a favorite. They include it in Indian rice dishes like rajma chawal and jeera pulao, which is essentially a baked basmati rice pilaf.
Jeera, zeera rice, cumin rice
Steamed or boiled
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Cooked, cumin infused basmati rice dish
Unlike jeera pulao, this jeera rice recipe has no vegetables or other ingredients that are typically included in a pilaf.
Instead, the basmati has a simple but flavorful seasoning of tempered cumin seed.
Two cooking options
There are two ways to make this jeera rice dish; you can either boil or steam it.
Instructions for both rice cooking methods are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Long grain rice- I use long grain white basmati. Feel free to use any long grain of your choice. Short grain rice has additional starch, which can give it a sticky and gummy consistency. So, I recommend using a long grain rice if you can.
If you'd like to use brown rice, you will need to increase the amount of cooking water. Also, it takes a few minutes longer for brown rice to cook.
If you're interested in learning more, there are significant differences between white and brown rice, from both a nutritional and health standpoint.
How to make jeera rice
- Rinse and soak the rice.
While it does take a few minutes longer, there are significant benefits to soaking rice before you cook it.
Among other reasons, soaking grains of basmati for just 20 to 30 minutes will shorten the cooking time.
- Temper the cumin seeds.
Tempering spices by frying them in hot oil is a fantastic way to add flavor to any dish. In this case, tempering cumin seeds draws out the essential oils in seed and infuses them into the oil.
When cumin tadka is added to cooked basmati, it creates a full flavor, spicy cumin rice.
Another tasty way to try tempered spices
After you learn the art of tempering spices, you'll want to use it to add flavor to all sorts of foods! Start by trying it in this turkey lentil soup.
- Steam or boil the rice.
If you steam cook the jeera rice recipe, you'll fry the cumin while the rice is cooking and stir it into the cooked rice.
If you boil the rice, the cumin tadka will be added to the pot so it can infuse the grains as they cook.
As is, this mildly spicy Indian rice dish is a fantastic pairing with grilled beef, chicken tikka kebab or even Instant Pot lamb stew (Dal Gosht).
You could also make the jeera rice recipe to serve with a helping of red kidney beans or black beans.
Traditionally, it's a staple with gravy-based curries like my Punjabi-style butter chicken recipe.
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Jeera Rice Recipe (Steamed or Boiled)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon ghee or butter
- 4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.