- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
Jeera rice can range from the very simple—literally a spoonful of frizzled cumin seeds stirred into rice—to more elaborate variations including fried onions and cashews. This version lies somewhere in between, plain enough to play second fiddle to a robust dish, but flavorful enough to stand on its own with nothing but a bowl and a spoon for company. The recipe incorporates a foundational tenet of Indian cuisine, tadka (aka thalimpu, chaunk, or vagarne): blooming spices in hot fat to awaken them while also perfuming the oil. Most flavor compounds in spices and herbs are fat-soluble, so the ghee or oil carries the flavor through the dish. (Butter would burn during the prolonged high-heat cooking common in Indian cuisine.) My first choice of rice here is a good-quality basmati (I like Daawat or Tilda brands); failing that, jasmine rice makes an excellent stand-in. Jeera rice will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat in a loosely covered bowl in the microwave, or in a skillet over medium heat. —Shilpa Uskokovic
ghee or vegetable oil
small yellow onion, thinly sliced
large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
grated fresh ginger
serrano chile (or other hot green chile), thinly sliced
cooked long-grain rice, preferably day-old
finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
finely chopped fresh mint leaves
roasted cashews, preferably unsalted, roughly chopped
- In a heavy large pot over medium heat, melt the ghee. When it shimmers, add the cumin seeds (they should sizzle and pop immediately). Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and pale golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and chile. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of water, scraping the bottom to remove any stuck-on bits. Season with salt to taste.
- Add the rice, cilantro, mint, and cashews. Continue to cook over low heat, tossing constantly, until the rice is warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.