Lemon rice recipe with traditional & instant pot methods – Lemon rice is one of the most popular South Indian rice recipes. It is a comfort food for many and is most commonly eaten for a meal. Lemon rice has a delicate flavor of fresh lemon juice along with the aroma of the tempering spices.
Chitranna & nimmakaya pulihora are the other south Indian regional names to this dish.
Making lemon rice is one of the simplest & is great to begin with if you are a newbie. The entire dish just gets done under 10 minutes if you have some precooked rice ready.
Lemon rice tastes good on its own. However many people love it with plain yogurt or curd, pickle, raita, chutney, salad or kosambari. During festivals or occasions we serve it with some fried snacks like masala vada, papad or pakora.
Back home in India, lemon rice is one of the most common travel foods. Many people pack it for road or train journeys as the dish keeps good for long hours due to the addition of turmeric.
In this post I have shared making the traditional method & also the instant pot version.
Tips to make lemon rice
- The addition of fresh ginger, curry leaves & green chilies totally elevate the flavor of the lemon rice. These are the 3 ingredients that are key to making the dish. However if curry leaves are not available in your part of the world just skip them & use some coriander leaves or cilantro.
- Traditionally peanuts & a small portion of lentils are used to add crunch to the dish. If you do not have them just replace with some cashew nuts.
- Lemon rice can be made with any cooking oil like peanut oil, sesame oil or sunflower oil. I like to add a dash of extra virgin olive oil towards the end. Olive oil doesn’t really go well in Indian foods but lemon rice is an exception.
- To make a good refreshing lemon rice always use fresh lemons. I personally like the large variety of lemons as they are really flavorful. You can also use limes.
- Most commonly short grain rice is used to make this. But any kind of rice just goes well. The rice has to be less starchy as the cooked grains have to be separate & grainy without being sticky or mushy.
Lemon rice recipe
Lemon rice recipe | How to make lemon rice
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for lemon rice
- 1½ cups rice uncooked (or 4 cups cooked rice)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice as needed
- ½ teaspoon salt or as needed
- 2 tablespoon oil
- ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 tablespoon peanuts or cashews
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder or haldi
- 1 to 2 green chili slit (skip if making for kids)
- 1 sprig curry leaves or kadi patta
- 1 ½ teaspoon chana dal or bengal gram (optional)
- 1 teaspoon urad dal or skinned black gram (Optional)
- 1 pinch hing or asafoetida (optional)
- ½ tbsp ginger finely chopped
- 2 dried red chilies broken
How to make the recipe
- Soak chana dal and urad dal in 4 tbsps hot water for 15 mins. Drain and set aside. This step helps to soften the dals & is optional.
- Wash rice a few times and drain the water completely.
- On a low flame cover and cook it in a large pot with 3 cups water.
- The rice must be cooked fully but grainy and not mushy. OR You can also cook it in a pressure cooker by placing the rice bowl in the cooker. Cook for 2 to 3 whistles.
- Cool rice completely. Sprinkle salt, lemon juice and 1 tsp oil evenly over the rice and mix.
- This helps to keep the rice grainy & firm. Mix well and check the salt and lemon juice. Adjust as needed.
How to make lemon rice
- Heat a pan with oil on a medium to low flame.
- When it turns hot, add peanuts or cashews, red chilli, chana dal and urad dal.
- Fry on a medium flame until the dals turn golden & aromatic.
- Add mustard & allow to crackle. Next add ginger, green chilis and curry leaves.
- Fry until the peanuts and dals turn golden & crunchy. Then add hing and turmeric.
- Pour this to the cooled lemon rice. Mix everything well.
- Serve lemon rice with plain yogurt, papad or pickle.
Instant pot lemon rice
- Rinse 1 ½ cups basmati rice at least thrice. Drain and set this aside.
- Press the saute button. When it displays hot, pour 2 tbsps oil to the inner pot of the instant pot.
- Then add in 3 to 4 tbsps peanuts or cashews. Fry them until golden and aromatic. Remove and set aside for garnish.
- Add 1½ tsp chana dal, 1 tsp urad dal, ¾ tsp mustard seeds, 1 to 2 slit green chilies, 1 sprig curry leaves. Fry them until lightly golden.
- Next add ginger, a pinch of hing & ¼ tsp turmeric. Give a good stir.
- Pour 1¾ cups water and add salt. Press CANCEL button. Deglaze by scrubbing the bottom of the pot with the spatula to avoid burn notice.
- Add rice and mix well. Taste the water & add more salt if needed.
- Secure the lid of the IP with the steam release handle set to sealing position. Press the PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer to 5 mins.
- When the Lemon rice is done, the IP beeps. Wait for the pressure to release naturally for 5 to 7 minutes. Then with the help of a spoon release the pressure manually, by moving the steam release handle from sealing to venting.
- Open the lid and remove the inner pot & set aside.
- When the temperature comes down a bit, squeeze in the lemon juice and gently stir it. If needed add more lemon juice and salt.
- Garnish lemon rice with roasted peanuts and serve with yogurt.
Video of lemon rice recipe
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- If you do not like hard or crunchy urad dal and chana dal, then you have to soak them in little water for 30 mins or hot water for 15 mins. Drain and add them to the seasoning & fry.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
How to make lemon rice recipe
Since this is a simple recipe I had not taken the step by step photos initially. But later I have updated with step by step photos & even with a video. So the main picture is with cashews and step by step pics & video with peanuts.
1. Wash and soak rice in a bowl for at least 15 mins. If you do not have time you can just skip the soaking and cook the rice. On a low flame you can cover & cook rice in a pot with 1:2 ratio (rice:water). or You can also place the rice & water bowl in a pressure cooker and cook for 2 to 3 whistles.
2. Cook the rice to grainy and not mushy. Cool it completely & then fluff up the grains.
3. Sprinkle salt, lemon juice and 1 tsp oil evenly. Mix lightly. Taste the rice add more salt and lemon if needed. Set this aside.
While the rice cooks add chana dal and urad dal to a small bowl and soak them in hot water for 15 mins or cold water for 30 mins. Later drain them and set aside. This step prevents the chana dal and urad dal from turning too hard.
4. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil turns hot set the stove flame to medium. Add peanuts or cashews and roast them until half done or lightly golden.
5. Then add urad dal and chana dal. Saute until lightly golden on a medium flame.
6. Add mustard first and saute until they crackle. Add curry leaves, ginger, green chilies and red chilies.
7. Saute until the curry leaves turn crunchy. Add hing and turmeric.
8. Add this to the cooled lemon rice. Mix well. Serve lemon rice with plain curd.