Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice (Tangy Flavorful Rice)

Lemon Rice also referred to as Chitranna or Nimmakaya Pulihora in a few South Indian languages is a crunchy, flavorful, tasty, and tangy dish that is easy to make and tastes so good.  It is very easy to make, needs basic pantry ingredients, and comes together in under 15 minutes.

Lemon rice can be served hot, warm, or cold, and is often accompanied by yogurt, raita, or a spicy pickle. It can also be garnished with chopped coriander leaves or grated coconut for added flavor and texture. It is a simple and quick dish to prepare and can be a delicious and satisfying meal on its own or as a side dish.

The dish is made by first cooking rice, and then mixing it with a tempering of spices and tangy lemon juice, and zest. The spices used in tempering may include mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, urad dal, asafoetida, and curry leaves, among others. The lemon juice and zest add a refreshing citrus flavor and aroma to the rice, and also help to preserve it.

Ingredients for Lemon Rice:

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 tablespoon chana dal
  • 1 tablespoon urad dal
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions for Lemon Rice:

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water and drain.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add the rice to the boiling water and stir.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid.
  5. Cook the rice for 18-20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  6. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
  7. In a small pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  8. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the pan and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  9. Add the asafoetida, chana dal, urad dal, peanuts, and curry leaves to the pan and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until the nuts are lightly toasted and the dals are golden brown.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the turmeric powder.
  11. Pour the tempered mixture over the rice and mix well.
  12. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest to the rice and mix again.
  13. Taste the rice and add salt if needed.
  14. Serve the rice hot or at room temperature.
  15. Enjoy your delicious and tangy lemon rice!

Stove-Top Pressure Cooking

  1. Start by adding your ingredients to the pressure cooker. add 1 cup rice and 2 cups of water with salt and, to create steam and build pressure.
  2. Make sure the pressure cooker lid is securely in place before you start cooking. Some pressure cookers may have a locking mechanism that you need to activate.
  3. Place the pressure cooker on the stove over high heat. Once the pressure cooker reaches high pressure, the pressure regulator will begin to release steam and make a hissing sound.
  4. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a steady pressure. This will depend on the type of stove you have and the pressure cooker you’re using
  5. Once the cooking time is complete, turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker cool down naturally.
  6. Once the pressure has fully released, carefully open the lid of the pressure cooker. Be cautious of any remaining steam, and use a pot holder or towel to protect your hands.

Lemon Rice

Serving Suggestions

  • A cool and refreshing yogurt-based side dish like cucumber raita or onion tomato raita complements the tangy and spicy flavor.
  • Lemon rice goes well with spicy curries such as chicken curry, egg curry, or vegetable curry. The mild flavors of the rice help balance the heat of the curry.
  •  A spicy and tangy pickle like mango pickle or lemon pickle can be served on the side of the dish to add extra flavor and heat.
  • Lemon rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To store, transfer the rice to an airtight container and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the container tightly and place it in the refrigerator.


  1. Long-grain rice is best for lemon rice because it is fluffy and separates easily, which helps to ensure that the rice grains don’t clump together.
  2. Using a non-stick pan when frying the nuts and spices helps to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  3. The rice can be served warm or at room temperature, but avoid serving it too hot as the flavors can become overpowering.
  4. Taste the lemon rice before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt or lemon juice if necessary.
  5. Overcooked rice can become mushy and lose its texture, so be careful not to cook the rice for too long.


  1. Coconut: Add grated coconut to the rice along with the lemon juice for a sweet and nutty twist.
  2. Cilantro: Add chopped cilantro to the rice before serving for a fresh and herbal flavor.
  3. Spicy: Add red chili powder or chopped green chilies to the tempering for a spicy kick.
  4. Tomato: Add chopped tomatoes to the rice along with the lemon juice for a tangy and juicy variation.
  5. Mint: Add chopped fresh mint leaves to the rice before serving for a cool and refreshing twist.

FAQs for lemon rice

Q: What is lemon rice?

A: Lemon rice is a South Indian dish made by cooking rice with lemon juice, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and other spices. It’s a popular dish that’s often served as a side dish or main course.

Q: How do you make lemon rice?

A: It is typically made by cooking rice and then mixing it with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, peanuts, and other spices. Lemon juice is then added to the rice to give it a tangy flavor.

Q: What can I serve with lemon rice?

A: Lemon rice can be served as a side dish or a main course. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, such as:

  • Vegetables curries (e.g., potato curry, eggplant curry)
  • Lentil dishes (e.g., dal, sambar)
  • Yogurt or raita
  • Papadums or other Indian snacks

Lemon Rice


Calories 464kcal
Fat 34g
Carbohydrates 39g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Calcium 28mg

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