This carrot rice recipe, also known as Timman Jizar, is an incredible Iraqi vegetarian recipe and basmati rice dish! Flavoured with onions, grated carrots, tomato, and a hint of cinnamon, it strikes the perfect balance. This quick and easy carrot rice recipe is ready to serve within just 30 minutes!
What is Carrot Rice, you ask?
This is a Basmati rice (which is a type of long grain rice) recipe. I find that basmati rice works the best in this particular recipe and it's also the most forgiving. Now allow me to convince you to make this recipe for a few seconds. Because I'm totally obsessed!
Who would have thought that a rice with carrots recipe would be such a hit with my kids? It's because when the carrots are caramelized, they get really sweet and delicious and work with the onions to introduce a wonderful flavour to the rice.
I love to make this as a side with any protein, or sometimes even just serve it on its own with a side salad or this delicious jajik (cucumber yogurt salad) which goes with it so well!
Tips for the best Carrot Rice
This vegetarian carrot rice recipe is actually super easy and takes about 30 minutes. You cook the onions, tomato, and carrots with the spices on the stovetop, then add the rice and let it simmer. This recipe is also vegetarian and packed with nutrients!
Here are my best tips to make sure your carrot rice comes out perfect:
- Use fresh grated carrot. Not baby carrots! The carrots pictured usually have so much more flavour than baby carrots. I do sometimes use frozen carrot cubes but you get a lot less flavour. Grating the carrots takes 5 minutes - I promise.
- Don't skip the onions and bouillon cube. Since this is a vegetarian dish, its relying on the onions and bouillon cube for that umami flavour.
- Use less water than you would with plain rice. I give you the exact measurement, so this should be easy. Don't be tempted to add more. Remember that there are vegetables in the mix and they also release liquid.
- Don't open the lid when the rice is cooking. As with any rice dish - leave it be! 20 minutes later, you have perfectly fluffy rice.
TIP: Makes sure you use Basmati rice for this recipe, since it will yield the best results and the best texture!
FAQs about Carrot Rice
Can you cook carrots directly with rice? Yes, absolutely! But the key first step is to cook them and caramelize them first before adding in the rice and liquid.
How do you cut carrots for rice? My recommendation is to grate the carrot. That way, the carrot breaks down more easily and quicker in the dish and releases a lot more flavour. It also sort of blends into the rice when it's cooked so if you have picky eaters, this certainly helps.
TIP: If you don't have fresh carrots to grate, don't be afraid of using frozen diced carrots! Another big time saver is using matchstick carrots that come already prepared in the grocery stores.
How to cook really fluffy rice? The trick to fluffy rice is to ensure you have the correct water to rice ratio, and that you allow it enough time to cook undisturbed. Be sure to measure your rice and water exactly to the amount listed in the recipe, and also make sure you don't open up the lid when its steaming. If you want lots more tips on cooking the fluffiest rice, check out this detailed rice post where I discuss how to cook rice and give you lots more authentic Middle Eastern rice recipes!
How to add meat to this dish
You can also add meat to this carrot rice if you're not serving it as a side. For chicken pieces, you can sear the chicken first, cooking it on each side for 5-10 minutes, then set it aside. Follow the same recipe steps, but add the chicken back in with the rice and cook. Depending on the type of chicken you're using (bone-in, boneless, etc) you should adjust the initial cooking time.
You can also cook this with ground beef, which turns out delicious. Simply cook the ground beef with the onions, tomato and carrots until browned, then follow the recipe steps. Make sure you cook the beef until all the liquid evaporates, so you don't want to introduce more liquid and come up with mushy rice.
How to serve Carrot Rice
You can make this for a light meal and simply serve it with salad or a side of plain yogurt (that's how we eat timman jizar in Iraq!). You can also cook it with meat as I described and serve it with a salad. Or you can make it as a side dish and pair it with any main dish, such as a steak, roasted chicken, or fish. If you're looking for an additional vegetarian rice dish, be sure to try my Baghali Polo recipe.
I like to make your life simpler but making sure you can still enjoy this magical carrot rice even if you are missing some ingredients! You can try the following ingredient swaps:
- Oil: any neutral oil will work best, but you can also use olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil
- Rice: Basmati rice is best but you can use any other type of long-grain rice for this recipe
- Onions: if you don't have white onions, feel free to use shallots or red onions
- Tomato: if you don't have fresh tomato, you can use 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, or skip it altogether
- Cinnamon Stick: Don't worry about the cinnamon stick if you don't have it. Having the ground cinnamon will still achieve the perfect balance of flavour.
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The Best Carrot Rice Recipe (Iraqi Timman Jizar)
- 1 onion
- 3 medium carrots grated (about 1.5 cups packed) *see notes
- 1 tomato
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 and ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 chicken bouillon cube substitute for vegetable for vegetarian option
- 1 and ½ cups basmati rice
- 2 and ¼ cups water
- Start by finely dicing the onions and tomatoes
- Wash, peel and grate the carrots, discarding the green parts
- In a non-stick pot on medium heat, heat the vegetable oil and add the onions. Cook for a few minutes until softened
- Next add the tomato, and continue to cook for a few more minutes
- Add the grated carrots, along with the bouillon cube, salt, pepper, cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring every few minutes
- Wash and drain the basmati rice, and add it to the pot. Stir and cook for 2 minutes
- Add the water and allow everything to start bubbling
- Once rice is bubbling, cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid
- After 20 minutes, open lid and fluff rice with a fork. Serve & enjoy
- If you absolutely hate shredding carrots (Come on - it takes 5 minutes!) you can substitute frozen carrot cubes. However the fresh shredded carrots definitely yields a lot more flavour!
- Be sure to use the exact rice and water measurements in the recipe to ensure you have perfectly fluffy rice!
- You can add other vegetables in there if you like, like peas.