Lemon Rice

It’s been a quite a few months since I’ve posted a new recipe on my blog and at the very outset I want to apologize to my regular readers for my absence. It’s not that I completely abandoned the blog (as I tried to constantly stay engaged with my audience through the blog’s facebook posts) but frankly after running the blog for over five years and posting over 250 recipes, I needed a bit of a break. Also, I’ve been totally caught up with a book that I’m in the process of writing and that has taken up all my creative energy. Alas, that project has turned into a monstrosity which has completely consumed my life – I’ve written close to 600 pages of the first draft and I’m still not done!
Anyway, I’d promised one of my readers (you know who you are  ) that I’d post the recipe for Indian style lemon rice and my conscience has been pricking me since. I’d made that promise a few months ago and it’s been nagging at me. I hope she will be kind enough to look past the procrastination and enjoy the lemon rice recipe! It is a delicious way to use left-over boiled rice (cold day-old rice works well here). Although you can use any kind of white rice, I think the recipe works best with Basmati rice because the combination of tart lemon juice works really well with the fragrance of Basmati rice. Also, I do want to say that this recipe comes from the southern part of India and I’m from the north, so it may be not true to tradition but it is the way I like my lemon rice. The traditional recipe has a couple of raw lentils that are added for flavor and crunch, also some people use grated coconut but I like my lemon rice simple and without the crunch of the lentils. I do add roasted peanuts for a variation of texture and also for the nuttiness they add to the dish.


1. Cooked White rice (preferably Basmati…I boiled one cup of rice the day before)
2. Salt to taste
3. 1-2 teaspoons of black dry mustard seeds
4. 2 medium sized lemons
5. 2-3 teaspoons of dry turmeric powder
6. ¼ cup of raw peanuts (you can use store-bought roasted peanuts but then avoid the step of cooking them in the nonstick pan).
7. One green chili
8. 4-5 twigs of curry leaves (available at any South Asian grocery store).
9. One small onion
10. 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)

Cooking Directions:


1. In a small nonstick pan, add about a teaspoon or so or the oil and heat at medium heat. Add the dry raw peanuts and fry them in the pan at low to medium heat. Do frequently stir the peanuts and cook them on all sides. Once the peanuts are lightly browned on all sides, set them aside to cool down. They get crunchy after they’ve cooled down. If you’re using store-bought roasted peanuts then you can skip this step.


2. Add the salt and the juice of the fresh lemons to the cold boiled rice and mix everything in and set the rice aside. The rice absorbs the tartness of the lemon juice.

3. Peel and dice the onion and set it aside.
4. In a large heavy-based pan, add the remaining amount of cooking oil and heat on medium heat.

5. Add the mustard seeds and let them get cooked in the oil till they start popping (they change color from dark brown to a grey color) – this process takes 30-45 seconds.
6. Add the onion to the hot oil and stir. Cook on low-medium heat and stir frequently. Cook for only 1-2 minutes.

7. Chop the green chili and add to the onions. Stir.

8. Add the curry leaves to the pan and stir.

9. Also add the turmeric powder and stir. Cook the turmeric in oil for 10-12 seconds.

10. Now add the rice that was soaking the lemon juice to the hot oil and stir. Let the cold rice get mixed in with the turmeric colored oil. Keep the heat low and stir frequently.

11. When all the rice is evenly colored and all the lumps in have been broken, add the fried peanuts that you had set aside and mix them in. The lemon rice is now ready – it can be served hot or at room temperature.


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  1. Permalink Submitted by Partap on Mon, 11/07/2016 - 02:24

    Having been extremely lucky to try this recipe directly from the author – I can tell you that this dish is nothing short of delicious! I’m excited to try this at home. Thank you for the helpful pictures and the easy instructions!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Mon, 11/07/2016 - 02:36

      Thanks Partap! I’ll make a much larger batch the next time and you’ll get a big share of it. Also I have a baby curry-patta plant coming up…let me know if you want it…I’ll re-plant it in a small pot for you 🙂

  2. Permalink Submitted by Conor Craig | OvenCleanTeam on Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:20

    Now that Partam has given his first hand review and me being a total sucker for delicious rice experiments in the kitchen I will also have to to try this! Thank you for sharing it with us, Shabnam.. 🙂

    Conor x

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