Fragrant Lemon Rice

A classic South Indian rice dish, and a confirmed favourite.

I remember having this rice for the 1st time when we were in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu. We spent a week or so in the area visiting the sites – the Shore Temple, the 5 Ratha’s, Krishna’s Butter Ball and generally chilling out in this small coastal town. It is a truly stunning place and deserving of a separate post with photos. One night we ate at the restaurant next to the 2nd hand book shop and run by a lovely family. We asked for some fish, and it was served with a dish of cooked radish, a Dal and a Lemon rice.

Not long after we got home, I tried to recreate the dish, and thanks to Das Sreedharan, of Rasa Restaurants and his books I was able to do so.

It’s a simple and flavoursome rice dish and goes with lots of things. We’ll eat it tonight with a dal and a pumpkin curry. But it works equally well with some grilled/baked fish.

The flavour of the lemon and the mix of Mustard seeds and Curry Leaves are what lift this rice out of the ordinary into the delicious category.

Ingredients ~

  • 1 – 2 tsp of Mustard seeds
  • 12 Curry leaves
  • 1 tbls Urid Dal
  • Dried red chillies
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of Turmeric
  • tbls Vegetable Oil

Instructions ~

  • Cook the basamati rice with the turmeric added
  • When cooked place the rice in a bowl and pour the lemon juice and zest onto the rice
  • In the rice pan (now empty) add the vegetable oil, and heat until hot
  • Add the Mustard seeds, the Curry Leaves, the Urid Dal and the Dried Chilli
  • Stir the mixture and when the Mustard seeds start to pop, and the Urid Dal is a brownish colour, add the rice (along with the lemon juice)
  • Take the pan off the heat and stir all the ingredients together


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