Make Ahead

Lemon rice

January 12, 2012
3 Ratings
  • Makes ~2 cups
Author Notes

Its one of the triumverate of classic 'dry' rice dishes from a traditional South Indian Kitchen, the others being spiced Tamarind rice & coconut rice. (I take that back, there's sesame rice, yogurt rice as well, so make that the 'big five') The easiest to make out of the three. since there is no extensive process to make the seasonings except for a tempering. I grew up making this with all possible permutations & combinations of seasoning, but this is the basic classic 'vanilla' version of lemon rice. ensuring that the lemon is fresh, just cut & squeezed, gives the dish an extra 'je ne sais quoi' factor, possiblly because of the oils from the peel getting into the rice as well.. Lemon zest..yeah it is great, when added, but I'd rather use it for something else. —Panfusine

Test Kitchen Notes

This dish may forever change the way you think of rice. Panfusine's method of first cooking the rice all by itself and adding the aromatics afterwards was new to me. I'm seriously in love. Her toasted spices and chile are an experience by themselves; the addition of the remaining ingredients, including (oh yeah) more chiles, gilds the lily. She's generous with the cilantro, too. I served it with Tzatziki and some fresh naan. I feel like I've turned a whole new corner in the rice world. You should, too. —boulangere

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups Cooked and cooled Basmati rice (~ room temperature)
  • Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon (freshly cut & squeezed)
  • 2 tablespoons Clarified butter (Ghee)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin seeds
  • 1 dried Arbol chile (Broken in two)
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts or Cashewnuts (Broken up)
  • 1 tablespoon Finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 1 Finely minced Deseeded Green chile (Serrano) or 1/2 a deseeded jalapeno
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves (torn)
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 3/4 - 1 teaspoons fine sea salt (as per taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 cups Finely chopped Cilantro
  1. Add the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a skillet, Heat the ghee and add the Mustard seeds to sputter, Add the cumin and the broken Arbol chile pieces. Stir until the cumin sputters & splits (& the chile simultaneously turns a reddish brown). Add the Cashew/peanuts & toast till they turn golden.
  3. Immediately add the minced ginger, torn curry leaves & the green chiles & saute till it starts emittting an aroma. Stir in the turmeric powder, asafetida and the salt.
  4. Pour this mixture into the rice, along with the meyer lemon juice & fold in thoroughly, till the rice acquires a uniform pale yellow color. Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve with a poppadum & cucumber Raita.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rebekah Goodgame
    Rebekah Goodgame
  • boulangere
  • creamtea
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly
  • susan g
    susan g
A biomedical engineer/ neuroscientist by training, currently a mommy blogger on a quest for all things food - Indian Palate, Global perspective!

18 Reviews

Rebekah G. February 13, 2014
Can I make this with just plain white rice or will the starchiness be wrong?
Panfusine February 13, 2014
Absolutely, just fluff the hot rice and let it lose a bit of moisture while cooling down before you add the seasoning.
Rebekah G. February 14, 2014
This rice is a revelation! I live out in the bush of Uganda and didn't have all the exact ingredients but it still turned out beautifully. Thank you! I fried an egg as a topper. :)
Panfusine February 14, 2014
Thank you so much. The Fried egg sounds like a Capital idea!
boulangere October 8, 2013
This is one of my favorites of yours.
creamtea February 2, 2012
Congrats on the CP!!
boulangere January 31, 2012
Un-freaking-believable. That's all I can say.
Panfusine February 2, 2012
Thanks for the wonderful validation Boulangere, Tzatziki sounds fabulous to pair the rice with!
Kitchen B. January 27, 2012
Oh, love South Indian recipes - especially the tempered spices. And you can never have too many rice recipes - congrats on the CP. Some idli's and coconut chutney would be nice too :-)
susan G. January 15, 2012
We had the lemon rice tonight, with "Meatballs" from boulangere. We love the rice!
Panfusine January 16, 2012
Thanks Susan g, so glad you liked it!
susan G. January 13, 2012
I'm ready to make this -- thanks. Can we see the other 4?
Panfusine January 13, 2012
Absolutely, Amanda has the yogurt rice recipe in the NY times big red book, I'll post the others..
creamtea January 12, 2012
Mmmm. I will be trying this (though I may use brown basmati).
Panfusine January 12, 2012
Thanks Creamtea!
Panfusine January 12, 2012
My pleasure AJ, Although feel free to omit the chile peppers.. (the predominant flavors are the lemon, cumin & the curry leaves)
Panfusine January 12, 2012
welcome AJ... you may want to omit the arbol chile in the tempering and the chopped green chiles.. (while they do add a spicy heat, the predominant flavor is the lemon and the supporting ginger & the aroma from the curry leaves.
AntoniaJames January 12, 2012
Yesss!!! This is going to be a favorite / go-to here; of that, I am certain. Thanks for posting this. ;o)