Many of you know that India was ruled by Mughals for a substantial period of time. They were very fond of throwing feasts and challenging their chefs to come up with innovative dishes to impress their guests. The chefs had the task of experimenting with traditional recipes by adding a twist using locally grown ingredients. This is how Jeera rice was born. Cumin was widely grown in India, and had the ability to make a dish look and taste just as good as it smelled. What makes Jeera rice stand out is that it not only tastes good on its own, but it also goes well with almost all curries. This is one of the reasons this dish is cooked every day in many Indian homes.
As it is often said, simple dishes are the best dishes and this is true when it comes to Jeera rice. Jeera rice has minimal ingredients and can be prepared quite quickly. The hero of this dish, of course, is the beautiful long grain basmati rice. However, Jeera is the sidekick that makes the hero shine. A symphony of vegetable oil, jeera and salt turns the beautiful basmati rice into a dish that is very hard to resist.
The art of making Jeera rice is slow, covered cooking with no stirring. This method ensures the rice is not agitated which releases the starch. Allowing it to simmer will result in long, fluffy and fragrant rice. It is essential that the rice is washed a few times before making the dish, and soaked for at least half hour to achieve the best results. Soaking helps cut down the water quantity needed to cook the rice, and adding hot water allows the rice to cook faster.
The salt in this rice plays a very important role, it has to be in the right quantity for the rice to shine. The best way to salt the rice is to add it to the water before cooking and then tasting the water. The water should taste slightly salty in order for the flavor of the rice to be perfect. Jeera rice can be made in the microwave, slow cooker or even in pressure cooker.
I have many memories of eating this rice dish at our Punjabi friends house directly opposite our house in New Delhi. When I started cooking, I would always make this rice as it is far more delicious and interesting than plain white rice. I would always mix it up by adding red onion while frying the jeera, or add round cut carrots, and sometimes some green peas, wedges of potato and more.
I bring to you as part of Banu's offering a very good quality basmati rice which is long, fragrant and fluffy. My 1 kg rice pack comes with the recipe and is a great combo with my curry sauces.