Jeera Rice

October  6, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 serrano chile (or other hot green chile), thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain rice, preferably day-old
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews, preferably unsalted, roughly chopped
  1. 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.
  2. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and pale golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Shilpa Uskokovic is recipe developer, food writer and budding food stylist and photographer. She was previously a line and pastry cook in some of NYC's top rated restaurants like Marea, The NoMad Hotel, Maialino and Perry Street. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Shilpa loves books, Bundt cakes, cute Basset Hounds and peak millennial memes. She was born and raised in Chennai, India.

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