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Lemon rice

Lemon rice is a quick and easy South Indian dish where previously cooked rice is made aromatic with some very common spices and lemon juice. This sour aromatic rice is made crunchy with peanuts and cashews.

This rice can be prepared with freshly cooked or left over rice. As we keralites, don't use white rice or basmati rice except on special occasions, I would like to give the full recipe from the cooking of rice. While cooking rice, make sure that the rice is not overcooked and mushy. Because the texture of the rice also imparts a major role in its taste.

If you are preparing for your kids, then you can surely avoid chilies, ginger, garlic and onion. Even if you avoid these spices, you will a get a very tasty dish.

 Lemon rice
Author: Anju aneesh
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Preparation time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes


  • 1.5 cup regular white rice / basmati rice/  വെളുത്ത അരി 
  • 1 small lemon / ഒരു ചെറിയ നാരങ്ങ
  • 1 small onion/ സവോള 
  • 1 small piece of ginger, chopped/ ഇഞ്ചി 
  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped/ വെളുത്തുളളി 
  • 3 green chilies, chopped/ പച്ചമുളക് 
  • 2 dried red chilies, chopped/ ഉണക്കമുളക് 
  • 2 springs of curry leaves/ കറിവേപ്പില 
  • 2 teaspoons peanuts (optional)/ കപ്പലണ്ടി 
  • 6 cashews, split or chopped (optional)/ കശുവണ്ടി 
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder / മഞ്ഞൾപൊടി 
  • one generous pinch of hing /കായം 
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds/ കടുക് 
  • 1teaspoon ghee/ നെയ് 
  •  oil as needed/എണ്ണ 
  • Salt as needed

Direction of preparation of lemon rice

  • Wash and soak 1 cup rice in fresh water for about 20 minutes.
  • Boil 2 cups of water with enough salt and add in and cook rice till soft and water dries up.
  • Heat a wide pan with enough oil and fry peanuts and cashews till crisp.
  • In the same oil, crackle mustard seeds.
  • Add curry leaves, dried red chilies, black gram and bengal gram saute till color changes to light brown.
  • Then saute onion, ginger, garlic and green chilies and saute till the onion turns transparent.
  • Add turmeric powder and asafoetida and quickly add cooked rice and lemon juice.
  • Mix well with a spoon. Switch off the stove and add peanuts and cashew nuts. Mix once again and serve hot with pickle and papad. 

Video For the recipe 

Step by step preparation of lemon rice.
  1. Wash and soak basmati rice for 20 minutes in fresh water.  After 20 minutes, discard water and keep aside.You can use any white rice such as basmati rice, sona masoori or the local white rice which is available for rice preparations.
  2. Boil about 2 cups of water in a pan with enough salt.
  3. Add rice and cook covered on low flame for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Check in between and switch off the flame when all the water evaporates and rice cooked perfectly. If you have left over white rice, you can skip all these steps and can use that directly.
  5. Heat one teaspoon of ghee in a pan and fry cashews until crisp. Transfer onto a plate and keep aside.

  6. Then add peanuts and fry this also till crisp. Transfer this also into a plate and keep aside.
  7. Add enough oil. Add mustard seeds and wait till it splutters.
  8. Add curry leaves and red chilies and saute for a minute. If you want you can add some bengal gram (kadala parippu) and black gram (uzhunnu parippu) also. If you are using these, just saute for a minute till light brown shade comes.
  9. Add in onion, green chilies, ginger and garlic and saute till the onions turns transparent. (If you are preparing this for your kids, then you can skip this step. Even if you skip this step, you will get a very tasty dish. )
  10. Then add the turmeric powder and asafoetida and saute well. Make sure that you have reduced the flame before adding turmeric powder and asafoetida otherwise, it might burn.
  11. Then add rice and lemon juice. Mix everything will till the rice were coated with nice yellow color. Do a taste test at this stage, add lemon juice and salt if needed. 
  12. Add in roasted nuts.
  13. Mix again gently so that the rice grains remain intact and do not break.
  14. Serve hot with papad or pickle.

  1. Do not over cook rice. Overcooking will spoil all the texture and taste  of the dish. The rice should only 80% cook. Because it will still cook due to the heat inside the pot. If you feel, the rice is overcooked, then pour some water to stop further cooking.

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