Seergam means cumin in Tamil and Jira in Hindi means Cumin. But they are two different rice varieties. Kalijira is grown in Bangladesh and from my reading Kali means black, while the rice is white apparently the unhulled rice is black and looks like cumin and hence the name. It is also called "Prince Of Rice" because of its aroma, taste and shape it acquires when cooked. It is a special occasion rice.Source.
While today, Basmati rice is the default rice for cooking Biryani, back home I have never tasted Biryani with Basmati - these days though everybody uses it I guess because it is more commonly and cheaply available. Biryani was always made with Seeraga Samba much more flavorful and tastier than the bland Basmati.
In the US, Basmati is ubiquitous and two decades ago when I first got here, forget about Kalijira there was no other rice available but Basmati. Period. For a period Basmati is all I cooked and while in India it was one of the costliest rice here in the US it was the cheapest. Even now.
Biryani made with Basmati is drier thereby requiring more fat to make it moist. Kalijira on the other hand elevates the taste of the Biryani and it is much more moist.
I always vow not to buy Basmati anymore and end up buying it anyway because it is everywhere. I bought a packet of Kalijira just recently and renewed the vow again.
Look at this link for the Seeraga Samba Rice.
If you have cooked with both Kalijira or Seeraga Samba and Basmati which do you like better?
Like what you are reading? Subscribe!