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Jolie Cooks With Madhu Column: Cumin Rice (Jeera Chawal)

Posted on June 29, 2021 at 11:30 AM by Madhu Gadia

June 29, 2021 

Jolie Cooks With Madhu Column:  
Cumin Rice (Jeera Chawal)



This week's simple rice recipe may surprise you. But I was so thrilled with the rice results that I wanted to share the rice recipe by itself. The truth is I have never really liked rice.  To me, it’s a pale, tasteless, sticky base to soak up flavors of other dishes or a neutral, starchy alternative to potatoes.  A few years ago, I switched to brown rice and both white and brown basmati rice, but salt was the only thing I added. 

To follow my self-imposed schedule, I needed to make something Indian today. About half an hour before dinner, I spotted a recipe that looked pretty fast.  I decided to give Cumin Rice a try. Would it take more than the 40 minutes she indicated in the directions??

Mastering One Recipe at a Time

Maybe readers are surprised that I am not preparing an entire Indian meal at a time.  I have tried this maxi-approach in the past and this multitasking marathon exhausted me. When finally sitting down to eat, I couldn’t savor each dish.  And I did not make any of them after that.  Now, with Madhu’s help, I am building a repertoire of easy, delicious Indian dishes that I can make all the time. I’m learning one dish at a time and enjoying the flavor and taste of each one. 

Amazing Fluffy Rice

As directed, I rinsed the basmati rice, that I purchased from an Indian grocery store, twice and let it soak for 15 minutes. I roasted the cumin and bay leaves in a bit of oil,  stirred in the drained rice and added the water.  The rice was ready 20 minutes later.

Taking a close look, I noticed that, the grains had lengthened from the soaking.  Each grain glistened.  This rice was the lightest, fluffiest rice I ever made.  And the ½ teaspoon of cumin gave it a subtle personality of its own.  

I realize I have never given rice a chance up to now. Thanks to this simple and stylish recipe, I’ve come to respect this ancient grain on its own. 

"I’m looking forward to making it often."

Madhu’s Comments: 

Basmati rice is readily available in most grocery stores today. It is one of the most flavorful, fluffy, and long-grain varieties of rice. I usually buy basmati rice from an Indian grocery store because it’s cheaper and I can buy it in quantity. Did you know, basmati rice can be stored for a long time, it apparently gets better with age? 

Basmati rice is often used for rice specialties such as pulaos (pilafs) and biryanis. Cumin is a simple way to flavor the rice and turns simple rice into a special accompaniment. My grandson will often ask for cumin rice. 

Although rice is one of the simplest foods to cook, but making perfect, fluffy, rice can still be a challenge. So congratulations, Jolie you achieved that. A few simple steps can ensure great rice every time. 

Jolie, since you like cumin rice, next time try one of the pulao recipes. One of my favorites is Pea-Mushroom Pulao, IVK, page 141.

Recipe: Cumin Rice - The Indian Vegan Kitchen, page 141.

Disclaimer: "Jolie Cooks with Madhu" is an independent column. The views expressed are Jolie Zimmers's personal cooking experiences and do not represent any product or company. They are not paid or reimbursed by any third party for their viewpoints.

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Basmati Rice | 12/17/21 at 12:56 AM
Cumin rice was a break-through recipe for me. Let me know how you like it.
Jolie | 7/21/21 at 11:38 AM
I make rice very often. Either my grandmother’s recipe, or Julia Child’s. I love basmati rice and i just boil it. I will definitely make this simple recipe soon, as i already have the ingredients!
Marbeth Foley | 6/30/21 at 4:22 PM
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