April 19, 2008

Cumin scented rice (Jeera rice)

The staple of South-Indian diet is rice and the varieties of rice available are extensive. In the Southern states itself, the preferred variety differs between the states. In Kerala, rosematta rice or Kerala red rice is the one preferred. Basmati rice is somewhat expensive and is bought only for special occassions or for famliy gatherings. Once we came to the US, we mostly used the basmati rice available in Costco and the local grocery stores. I just love the basmati rice more than the red rice because the basmati rice is very much delicate and feels light in your stomach whereas the red rice is heavier. When I went to the North-India for my college project, I always used to have their food and the students there used to tease me if I really was from Kerala. Thus it is wide-spread that Keralites love their red rice. Anyways, this is a quick recipe which gives a delightful flavor to the basmati rice without much work and is something that we can work into our routine menu. The cumin scented rice (jeera rice) would go well with any Indian curry but I would suggest slightly spicy ones which would pair the best with the subtle cumin flavor of rice.

Recipe (Serves 4-6):

Basmati rice - 2 cups, uncooked
Water - 4 cups
Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp


Combine the oil and cumin in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the cumin is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice gives off a mild, toasted fragrance, about a minute.

Add the water and salt, and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer vigorously, covered, until the rice is tender and the water has been entirely absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Let the rice stand for about 5 more minutes to finish cooking.

Serve with spicy curries and/or pickles.

Source: Indian home cooking - a fresh introduction to Indian food by Saran Suvir.

  1. Omit the cumin for a simple plain pilaf.
  2. I used tempered mustard seeds and urad dal as garnish.

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