1. Rice

Lemon Rice


For Cooking Rice

  • 1 cup rice (heaped) or 3 to 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1.75 to 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or add as required

Other Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice or add as required
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (spilt and skinned black gram)
  • 2 dry red chilies – preferably seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies or 1 to 2 green chillies – chopped
  • 12 to 15 curry leaves
  • 1 generous pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cashews – halved or chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup peanuts – optional
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil) or any neutral oil
  • salt as required


Cook Rice

1. First rinse 1 cup heaped rice a couple of times and then soak in enough water for about 20 to 30 minutes.

You can use short grained rice or a long grained rice like basmati. In my step-by-step guide, I have added short grained rice. In the video, basmati rice is used.

soaking rice in water in a steel bowl to make chitranna or lemon rice

2. Then drain all the water from soaked rice. Add rice in a 2-litre or 3-litre pressure cooker. Add ¼ teaspoon salt or add salt as required.

soaked rice added to pressure cooker with salt

3. Add 1.75 to 2 cups water.

water added to rice in the pressure cooker

4. Pressure cook rice for 8 to 10 minutes or for 2 to 3 whistles on a medium to medium-high heat. When the pressure settles down on its own in the cooker, then open the lid.

You can even cook rice in a pan or in the Instant Pot. Follow the steps as listed below:

  • Pan method: Take rice, salt and 2 cups water in a pan. Cover and simmer until all the water has been absorbed and rice grains are tender and fluffy. Check when the rice is simmering and if the water has dried up with rice grains undercooked, add some more hot water and continue to cook.
  • Instant Pot method: Add rice, salt and 1 or 1.25 cups water (depending on rice type and quality) in the steel insert of a 6 quart IP. Pressure cook for 5 minutes on high. Do a quick pressure release after 5 minutes.
cooked rice in the pressure cooker

5. Empty the cooked rice in a bowl or plate and set aside so that it becomes warm or cool at room temperature. You can also fluff the cooked rice and let it cool in the cooker itself.

1 heaped cup of raw rice will yield 3 to 4 cups of cooked rice. However, this can very depending on the type of rice.

cooked rice in a steel bowl set aside to make lemon rice recipe

6. Squeeze juice from 1 lime or 1 small lemon into a small bowl. You will need about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice.

If you want a more tangy taste, then you can add more lemon juice. Set aside.

squeezing lemon juice to make lemon rice recipe

Fry Nuts

7. Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil in a pan. Add ¼ cup peanuts. The sesame oil that is added is made from raw sesame seeds and is also known as gingelly oil. It has a totally different flavor and aroma than the south-asian toasted sesame oil.

If you do not have sesame oil, then add sunflower oil, canola oil, avocado oil, peanut oil or grapeseed oil.

If you have roasted peanuts ready, then you can give a miss to this step. I sometimes have extra roasted peanuts in the pantry to be had as a snack or to be added in recipes like these.

peanuts added in oil in a pan

8. Fry the peanuts on a low to medium heat until they become golden and crunchy.

frying peanuts in pan

9. Remove and set aside.

fried peanuts in a steel plate to make lemon rice recipe

10. In the same pan add 1 tablespoon cashews.

frying cashews in oil in the pan

11. Fry cashews until they turn golden. Set aside.

frying cashews until golden color in oil in the pan

Fry Lentils, Seeds, Spices

12. Now add 1 tablespoon sesame oil in the same pan. When the oil becomes hot, lower the heat and add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds.

frying mustard seeds in oil in a pan

12. When the mustard seeds begun to crackle, then add 1 teaspoon urad dal (spilt and skinned black gram).

I don’t add chana dal (split and skinned bengal gram) to my lemon rice recipe, but if you want to add these, soak the lentils in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the water and then add them to the oil at this step.

Make sure they are pat dried or the extra water or moisture in them will make the oil splutter too much.

urad dal added to pan

13. On a low heat, fry the urad dal till they turn golden.

frying urad dal in the pan

14. Next add 12 to 15 curry leaves, 1 teaspoon chopped green chillies and 2 dry red chilies (preferably seeds removed).

curry leaves, greeen chillies, red chillies added to pan

15. Sauté for some seconds until the red chilies change color.

sauteing tempering mixture in the pan

16. Switch off the heat and add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 generous pinch asafetida (hing).

spices added to tempering mixture in pan

17. Mix very well.

mixing spices with tempering mixture to make chitranna

Make Lemon Rice

18. Now pour this tempering mixture in the cooked rice.

tempering mixture added to cooked rice in the bowl to make chitranna

19. Add the fried peanuts and cashews.

fried peanuts and cashews added to cooked rice in bowl to make lemon rice or chitranna

20. Add lemon juice – about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons.

lemon juice added to cooked rice in bowl to make chitranna

21. Add salt as required.

salt added to cooked rice in bowl

22. Mix very well.

with a steel spoon mixing salt and lemon juice to make chitranna or lemon rice

23. Check the taste and add more lemon juice or salt if you want. Keep the lemon rice or chitranna covered for the flavors to blend for 4 to 5 minutes.

While serving garnish with some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) if you prefer.

lemon rice or chitranna mixed and ready to be served

24. Serve lemon rice with papaddums or vadams and coconut chutney or just have it plain. You can even pack lemon rice in tiffin or for a travel journey.

bright yellow colored lemon rice or chitranna served in a white bowl on a white cotton cloth with a side of fried papaddums

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