Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice, is a popular Indian side dish in which nutty basmati rice is cooked with aromatic and earthy cumin seeds. This simple and delicious side is the perfect accompaniment to most Indian curries and lentils.
Cumin rice is traditionally cooked with Indian Basmati Rice, which is a long grained rice known for its sweet aroma and a mild nutty flavor. Cooking it with cumin seeds enhances that taste by adding an earthy flavor to the rice.
This simple yet versatile rice dish is the base of many great dishes like Jeera Pulao (cumin pilaf with sautéed onions and peas) and Vegetable Pulao (rice pilaf with assorted chopped vegetables).
Difference in Cook time and Texture of Basmati Rice
Basmati rice is know for its iconic long and separated kernels of rice that stay fluffy after cooking. Two key factors determine the end texture of rice - Cooking time and Water-to-Rice ratio. Apart from these two, there are a few other variables that play a part in the final texture of your basmati rice.
- Age: The cook time varies depending on how long the rice as been aged. Most Indian basmati rice brands are aged for about two years.
- Grain Length: Shorter grain rice cooks faster than long grain rice. I cook the extra-long rice a minuter longer than regular basmati rice.
- Personal Preference: How you like your rice, for example, el dente, like in Biryani, or soft, which goes well with lentils.
- Soaked or not: Most basmati rice brands recommend to soak the rice for 20-30 minutes for best results. Whenever I have time, I prefer to soak the rice. It adds to the fluffy texture of the rice. But, when I can't, I rinse the rice well till the water runs clear and add a little extra water for cooking.
Stove-Top Recipe for Cumin Rice
When I make Cumin rice on the stove-top, I follow these simple steps.
- Prep: I start by rinsing the rice 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Then, soak it for 15-20 minutes before cooking. Soaking the rice causes the rice kernels to become soft and fluffy. When I don't have time to soak, I add an extra 1/4 cup of water.
- Cook: Heat a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, add Ghee or butter, add cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle (about 30-40 seconds). Now strain the rice using a fine mesh strainer, add it to the pot, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add salt, water and let is come to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Fluff: When the timer is done, turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes. After that, open the lid and gently fluff rice with a fork.
Instant Pot Recipe for Cumin Rice
It took me a few tries in the Instant Pot pressure cooker to get it 'just right' for my family (see my instant pot FAQ to learn more). The magic number for me is 6 minutes for Basmati Rice. I cooked a few batches with a 1:1 ratio of rice to water, but the rice had a bit of a bite to it.
I found that adding an extra two tablespoons of water, made them more soft and fluffy, which was perfect for us. Here is how I cook cumin rice in the Instant Pot, this recipe will work with any electric pressure cooker:
Heat Ghee or oil on Saute mode
Now add cumin seeds and wait for them to sizzle
Rinse and strain rice and add, saute for 1-2 mins
Add water and stir
Close lid and pressure cook for 6 mins
Wait 10 mins, then release pressure
Gently fluff cumin rice using a fork
Enjoy with your favorite curry
Customize Your Instant Pot Rice to Taste
If you like your Basmati rice with a little bite, follow the 1:1 ratio, which means, for every cup of rice, you add a cup of water. If you like them softer, add 1 1/4 cup water for 1 cup of rice. In most customizations, the time remains the same as 6 minutes at high pressure.
Using the RICE Setting for Cumin Rice
You can follow this recipe and cook it using the Rice setting too. Add all ingredients to the pot, close the lid, set the vent to sealing position and hit the 'Rice' button. That defaults to 12 minutes at low pressure.
I have cooked it both ways and have found the result to be the same. So, I love using the 'Manual/Pressure Cook' option, since that takes less time.
NPR vs. QR for Rice
I get asked this question a lot- do you NPR or QR for rice? As a general rule of thumb, I let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, after which I manually release the remaining pressure (NPR 10). When I cook long grain rice like Basmati or Jasmine, I find, that resting the rice for 10 minutes makes it fluffier and rice kernels maintain their shape.
That being said, there are times, when dinner gets ready in the nick of time, and there is no time to wait for NPR. In which case, I release the pressure manually (QR), and gently fluff the rice with a fork. The texture is a bit more moist than usual, but it still tastes great.
How to Cook Plain Basmati Rice in Instant Pot
For plain Basmati Rice, you can follow this recipe and skip the cumin and the saute process. Get the detailed recipe here.
What to Serve with Cumin Rice
The following curries pair well with cumin rice:
- Paneer Tikka Masala (veg + GF)
- Dal Tadka (vegan +GF)
- Chicken Vindaloo (Dairy-Free + GF)
- Lamb Korma (dairy-Free + GF)
More Instant Pot Rice Recipes From My Kitchen
Instant Pot Cumin Rice | Jeera Rice
- Rinse the basmati rice 2-3 times and soak for 20 minutes. Strain the soaked basmati rice in a sieve to get all the water out.
- Turn on instant pot on Sauté mode. When the display reads 'hot' add ghee and cumin seeds.
- When the cumin seeds begin to sizzle (a few seconds), add rice and sauté another 30 seconds.
- Add salt and water and stir. Close the lid. Set the valve to 'sealing' position. Press Manual (high) for 6 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 mins, then manually release the pressure. You can do that bu turning the knob to 'venting' position in DUO models, or push down the pressure valve in ULTRA models.
- Open the lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Cumin rice is best served warm with lentils soups, curries or any grilled entrée.
Alternative: Skipping the Saute process
- Alternatively, you could make this a dump and start recipe. Simply add everything in the Instant Pot, close the lid and follow the same cook time. It will have a milder cumin flavor.
Notes & Recipe Tips
- If you have the time, I recommend soaking the rice for 15 mins. It makes them more fluffy.
- Variation: Add assorted frozen vegetables to this recipe and make a Vegetable Pilaf.
- Estimated Time includes pressure build-up time. Cook time = Time to set for pressure cooking.
- This recipe has been tested in a 3qt and 6qt Instant Pot. If making this in an 8Qt size, adjust the quantity to meet the minimum liquid requirement.
- For a smaller portion, I recommend pot-in-pot cooking. Get the recipe here.