Jeera rice is what I consider quiet opulence in food terms. The aroma of basmati, cumin and all those lovely warm spice undertones, that give this dish a truly heartwarming sense of security, is what makes me want to bring my favourite people together. No jokes, here. Jeera Rice is to my tongue what the cast of Friends are to my nostalgia.
All the way back to the days when I was looking for the charging cable of the wifi router, hidden convincingly by my mother in tubs of rice and flour, in the middle of my board exams. It was real-life spy-work, I tell you.
Life was thrilling in it's simple ways. Adult-ing is tough, and jeera rice, to me, makes the struggle worth it.
It isn't celebratory in brash, festive gaiety. That's Biryani. Specifically, mutton. And only because I'm allergic to crustaceans (a travesty, in my opinion. And there's no refund on the genes you're given).
It's a commendation of what has been achieved, so far. Not quite yet at the pulao stage of life, but definitely beyond the days of rustic, boiled rice.
So, as we're beginning to work towards what Diwali was really all about, which was obviously that we need occasions to experiment with food and something about good jaggery being better than bad sugar, let's not forget to thank our blessings, surrounding ourselves with the people we love and indulging in a momentary pause to take life in.
Not sorry for the feels. And watch out for my secret ingredient.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
2 cups Basmati rice
3 and 1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cumin (jeera)
1 stick cassava (can be substituted with cinnamon, aka, dalchini)
2 small bay leaves
2 threads mace
1 tsp Caroway Seeds (ajwain)
3 tbsp ghee
1 small pressure cooker
1 bowl for washing and soaking rice (30 - 45 minutes)
1 strainer, to strain soaked rice
1 large spoon, for frying
1. Wash your rice with regular water, until the water is clear. Soak the rice in 1 cup of water for half an hour to forty-five minutes.
2. In your pressure cooker, on a low flame, heat the ghee. Swirl the ghee around the sides of the cooker as it warms up.
3. When the ghee is hot, add all the spices and fry until the jeera stops popping.
4. Strain the rice, keeping the water aside. Add the rice to the pressure cooker and fry until all the grains of rice are coated in ghee.
5. Add the water, and the salt. Replace the water lost during soaking with 1/4 cup of water. Put the pressure cooker's lid and weight on, and cook on medium heat for 4 whistles.
6. Remove the lid, and give the rice a gentle stir so that the rice doesn't cake and stick to each other. Eat it hot with a simple dal curry, or a delicious spoonful of chole masala (links to which will be up very soon).