Lemon rice is the easiest and tastiest south Indian flavored rice you can make. Tempered and tinged with mild exotic Indian spices along with the tang of citrusy lemon in every bite, it is a perfect quick dish you can make in a jiffy (faster if you have leftover cooked rice). Paired with some yogurt, coconut chutney, Indian pickles or just some potato chips, it is a complete meal!!
Last weekend was a whirlwind of more excitement, fun, laughter and family time with 2 parties. The second one was in my house. Along with rava idli/steamed semolina cakes with coconut chutney, tomato-carrot soup, dry aloo/potatoes, chapattis and some other dishes along with my easy and eggless chocolate-beetroot cake, lemon rice was the simple but exotic and tasty accompaniment to the whole meal.
Although it is a simple recipe to make, the mild flavors in them are totally flavorful, aromatic and exotic that you will love to make it every time you have leftover rice!!! The tang of the lemon juice will excite your taste buds and the lovely golden yellow color turmeric is visually appealing.
The secret to perfect lemon rice is to cook the rice al dente. Each grain of cooked rice should be separate but well cooked. Addition of nuts is optional but does give a good crunch in every bite. I love any kind of nuts, so you will find me adding nuts to most of my dishes!!
For a variation, you can add cooked vegetables like green peas, carrots, green beans etc. but authentic south Indian lemon rice has just some nuts (especially peanuts) or not at all.
It is a perfect dish (totally vegan) to make when you have guests dropping by, in your lunchbox, for a picnic or even to serve at a party!!
- 1 cup rice (I have used Basmati rice)
- 3 tablespoons peanuts or cashew nuts (optional)
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 to 2 green chillis/jalapeno
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon urad dhal/split skinned black gram lentils
- ¼ teaspoon hing/asafoetida
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Wash and rinse the rice thoroughly. Place in pressure pan along with 1 ¾ cups of water and cook for 2 whistles or on low for 5 to 7 minutes after the first whistle.
- Once the pressure drops naturally, open the pan and let cool. Once totally cool, gently fluff up the cooled rice to separate the grains. Keep aside.
- Break the dried red chillies into 2 or 3 pieces and if using green chillies, either slit them or chop them.
- In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil. Once hot, add the mustard seeds.
- As soon as the seeds start to crackle, add the urad dhal and sauté for a few seconds on low heat. Take care to see that the dal does not burn.
- Stir in the red chillies or green chillies (whichever you prefer) along with the curry leaves, turmeric and hing. Saute for a few seconds more; make sure you do not burn the dry red chillies, they will turn bitter.
- If you are using unroasted nuts, add at this stage and fry for a few minutes till they are roasted lightly.
- Once the nuts are roasted, add the cooked and cooled rice along with salt to taste and mix gently to incorporate all the spices well.
- Cook on medium high, stirring continuously till heated through well.
- Add the lemon juice, switch off the stove and mix well.
- Serve hot or cold, mildly spiced south-Indian flavored lemon rice with a side of yogurt, raita, coconut chutney, chips, salad, Indian pickles etc.
- I have used Basmati rice as I love the long grains; you can use any rice you choose.
- If you do not have coconut oil, use any oil of your choice. Lemon rice being a typical south Indian dish, coconut oil is the traditional choice.
- If allergic to nuts, use green peas, carrots etc. instead.