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What Is Jeera Rice?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Jeera rice is a very simple and popular Indian rice and cumin dish that may be served as a main dish or to accompany many varieties of cold and hot side dishes. This dish is probably the easiest to make of the many rice dishes in Indian cuisine. Jeera rice ingredients include long grained basmati rice, cumin seeds — which are known in India as jeera — butter or vegetable oil, coriander, parsley, mint, onions, green chilies, saffron, salt and water. Vegetables like peas, tomatoes, basil, cauliflowers and potatoes can be added to the rice if required. This rice doesn't take long to prepare, and it is best eaten hot.

To begin with, the basmati rice is soaked in salt water for about an hour and then drained and set aside; any rice can do for making jeera rice, but the long grained variety makes for a more attractive, flavored dish. Butter or oil is heated in a pan and the cumin seeds and curry leaves are added to it. When the cumin seeds start to sputter, sliced onions and sliced chilies are added to the pan and fried until the onions turn translucent. Chopped ginger, garlic, coriander and mint leaves are then added to the pan.

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The soaked and drained rice is added to the pan next, along with salt and pepper; a pinch of sugar can also be added if required. After the rice has been cooking for a minute or so, water is added to the pan till it covers the rice. If colored jeera rice is desired, a pinch of saffron should be added to the pan at this point; saffron is a natural food coloring and has no health side effects. The rice should be boiled until more than half the water in the pan has evaporated. Then the heat should be turned down very low and the pan should be covered and the jeera rice should be left to cook undisturbed for the next 10 or 20 minutes.

The rice is done when all the water has been absorbed and the rice grains are well-separated and fluffy. The rice can be eaten on its own or it may be served with a vegetable or meat curry. It may also be eaten with curd and a raita or salad, or with a pickle or a sauce. Jeera rice is made in slightly different ways in many different regional cuisines in India, particularly in the Maharashtrian, Bengali and Punjabi cuisines.

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JessicaLynn
Post 3

@starrynight - If you think jeera rice is too spicy, you could always make your own with less spice. I think it really depends on where you go, but I've been to several restaurants that serve jeera rice with minimal spices. It doesn't have to be heavy on the garlic or whatever else you don't like.

starrynight
Post 2

@strawCake - I have to admit, I don't really have a taste for Indian food. I've tried it, and it was just too spicy and different for my palate. But then again, I'm not a big fan of "fancy" rice anyway. I prefer a nice, simple rice pilaf.

It's a great side dish, and it will go with anything. The flavors of rice pilaf definitely won't overwhelm the rest of the meal. That's more than I can say for jeera rice. Between the ginger, garlic and onion, it's pretty overpowering.

strawCake
Post 1

I have eaten jeera rice at an Indian restaurant before. I used to live near a very good Indian restaurant. Pretty much every entree came with jeera rice. I would usually order some kind of lamb curry and spoon it over the rice. All the delicious flavors of jeera rice really complement other Indian dishes.

I like jeera rice so much I looked up several jeera rice recipes online. As you may have realized from reading the article, it's really not that hard to make. You just have to have the right ingredients and follow the instructions. The results are wonderful and very versatile.

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