Traditional South Indian quick lemon rice also known as chitranna or nimmakaya pulihora is a popular dish made for a meal. To make this, precooked rice is tempered with spices, dal, curry leaves and nuts. Lastly it is mixed with fresh lemon juice to impart a refreshing and delicious flavor. Recipe with instructions for stovetop & Instant pot.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.
2 to 3 tablespoonslemon juice or lime juice as needed
½teaspoonsalt(adjust to taste)
¼ to ½ teaspoonturmeric powder (haldi)
2green chili slit (refer notes if making for kids)
1sprigcurry leaves (kadi patta)
1 ½teaspoonchana dal(bengal gram) (optional)
1teaspoonurad dal(skinned black gram) (Optional)
2dried red chiliesbroken
How to make the recipe
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.
Fluff up the rice gently with a fork and cool completely. This helps to keep the rice grainy & firm.
How to make lemon rice
Heat a pan with ½ tbsp oil on a medium.
Add peanuts or cashews and fry until golden and crunchy. Remove them to a plate.
Pour another 1½ tbsp of oil and add mustard, urad dal & chana dal. Fry on a medium flame until the dals turn golden & aromatic.
Next add ginger, green chilis, red chilies(optional) and curry leaves. Fry them until the leaves turn crisp for about 30 seconds. Do not fry for too long, ginger will turn bitter.
Then add hing, turmeric and salt. Immediately pour 2 to 3 tbsps water and stir.
Quickly water will evaporate and turn the dal softer yet keeping them slightly crunchy. Turn off the stove and remove from the heat.
Transfer this to the cooled rice. (or Alternately add the cooled rice to the pan). Ensure the rice is cooled completely then squeeze the lemon juice and give a good mix.
Taste the lemon rice. If needed sprinkle more salt and add more lemon juice. Garnish with roasted peanuts or cashews. 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.