Indian Cooking 201 -- Recipe #1: Basmati rice with sweet green peas and cumin

Indian Cooking 201 — Recipe #1: Basmati rice with sweet green peas and cumin

Bowl of basmati rice with green peas

This is my favorite way to enjoy basmati rice because it pairs well with anything, whether it’s for a casual dinner or an elegant party: white basmati rice steamed with cumin seeds, a bit of kosher salt, and finished with sweet green peas.

Indian Cooking 201 – Our first lesson will focus on how to make a simple but elegant rice dish perfect for a weeknight meal or weekend dinner party. 

  • Now that you’ve completed Indian Cooking 101 and know how to make rice perfectly, you will learn how to make an easy basmati rice dish that can go casual or elegant 
  • You will begin learning how to make authentic Indian dishes using mostly ground spices that you can find at your local supermarket (no need to go to an Indian grocer quite yet)
  • You will begin to master my 5-10-5 Rule — a cheat sheet of the very basic things you need in your pantry to make a variety of delicious Indian dishes

As discussed in Indian Cooking 101 — How to Make Rice Perfectly, there is no shortage of people who struggle with making rice well. However, once you master the ratios of rice to water and how to steam rice that is fluffy and fragrant (neither undercooked nor overcooked) the possibilities are endless! This is a perfect example of a recipe you can add to your culinary arsenal and pull out for a casual weeknight dinner or a fancy Saturday night dinner party. Moreover, you can keep all the main ingredients on hand whenever you need them — basmati rice, oil, and cumin seeds can be stored in your pantry for months, while the frozen sweet green peas keep well in your freezer for at least as long. Et voila! You can make an impressive basmati rice dish within 30 minutes.

Basmati Rice with Green Peas and Cumin (Peas Pulao)

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/3 cup frozen green peas


  1. Heat canola oil and cumin seeds in a small saucepan on medium heat. Once the seeds begin to glisten and move a little, add the uncooked basmati rice and kosher salt and sauté for 1 minute.  
  2. Add water, mix well to combine, cover tightly with lid. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to lowest flame and angle the saucepan lid so it leaves just a bit of room for air to escape (see photos here). Set timer for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, add frozen peas so they are evenly distributed across the top of the rice. Return saucepan lid to the same position and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and close the lid tightly on the saucepan and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer rice to a serving bowl or dish and fluff with a fork before serving.
Ingredients for Basmati Rice with Green Peas and Cumin

From left to right: cumin seeds, oil, kosher salt, uncooked basmati rice, frozen green peas

Heating oil and cumin seeds in a saucepan

Heat oil and cumin seeds together in a small saucepan over medium heat

Raw basmati rice in a saucepan with oil and cumin seeds

Once the cumin seeds start to sizzle and move a little, add uncooked basmati rice and kosher salt and saute for a minute

Bringing basmati rice to a boil in a saucepan

Add water, cover tightly with lid and bring to a boil; once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes

Adding frozen peas to almost-cooked basmati rice in a saucepan on stovetop

After 10 minutes add frozen green peas along the top of the rice and cover again with saucepan lid on a slight angle

Cooked basmati rice with peas and cumin

After another 5 minutes, turn off heat, cover tightly with saucepan lid, and let rest for another 5 minutes