Lemon Rice Recipe: A Taste of Tradition

Lemon Rice Lemon Rice: Indulge in the vibrant flavors of Lemon Rice, also known as Chitranna or Nimmakaya Pulihora. This delightful South Indian dish offers a symphony of textures and tastes – from the crunch of fried nuts to the zesty tang of fresh lemon juice, all infused with fragrant herbs and spices. It's an easy-to-make recipe that never fails to satisfy.

Lemon Rice 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Cuisine: South Indian

Course: Main Course

Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

Difficulty Level: Easy


For Cooking Rice:

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1.75 to 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or as required

Other Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or as required
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal 
  • 2 dry red chilies, preferably seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies, or 1 to 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 12 to 15 curry leaves
  • 1 generous pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cashews, halved or chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup peanuts (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil), or any neutral oil
  • Salt, as required

Also Read: Hara Bhara Kabab


Soaking Rice:

Give the rice grains a thorough rinse, then soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes. After soaking, drain off all the water from the rice.

Stove-top Pressure Cooking:

  1. Cook rice in a 2-liter or 3-liter pressure cooker with salt and 1.75 to 2 cups water for 2 to 3 whistles or 8 to 10 minutes on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Once pressure settles down on its own, remove the lid and transfer the cooked rice to a plate or bowl.

Note: One heaped cup of rice will yield 3 to 4 cups of cooked rice, the quantity varying based on the type and quality of rice.

Allow the cooked rice to cool down to room temperature.

Cooking Rice in a Pan or Pot:

  1. Take rice, salt, and 2 cups water in a pan. Cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, and rice grains are tender and fluffy.
  2. If the water dries up before rice is fully cooked, add some hot water and continue cooking.
  3. Transfer the cooked rice to a tray or bowl to cool.

Instant Pot Method:

  1. Add rice, salt, and 1 or 1.25 cups water (depending on rice type and quality) in the steel insert of a 6-quart IP.
  2. Pressure cook for 5 minutes on high, then do a quick pressure release.
  3. Transfer the cooked rice to a plate or bowl to cool.

Frying Nuts:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil in a small frying pan. Fry peanuts until crunchy, then set aside.
  2. In the same oil, fry cashews until golden. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil to the same pan. Keep the flame low.
  4. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add urad dal and fry until golden.
  5. Next, add red chilies, chopped green chilies, and curry leaves. Sauté briefly until red chilies change color.
  6. Switch off the heat and add asafoetida and turmeric powder. Mix well.

Making Lemon Rice:

  1. Immediately pour the tempering mixture over the cooked and cooled rice. Add fried peanuts and cashews, lemon juice, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Cover the bowl or pan and let the flavors blend for 4 to 5 minutes.

Also Read: Dal Tadka


  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) if desired.
  • Serve Lemon Rice with pappadums, a side vegetable salad, or coconut chutney.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Lemon Rice is ideal for packing in a tiffin box or as a picnic lunch item since it can be served at room temperature.
  • Enjoy it as a light lunch or breakfast too.


  • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a day. However, it's recommended to consume Lemon Rice within a day for freshness.


Rice: Any non-sticky variety works well, and leftover cooked rice can be used.

Spices and Lentils: Mustard seeds, red or green chilies, urad dal, and asafoetida are key ingredients. Ginger can also be added for extra flavor.

Herbs: Curry leaves add aroma, but coriander leaves can be used as a substitute.

Nuts: Cashews and peanuts provide texture; either can be used.

Lemons: Fresh and ripe lemons/limes are recommended.

Oil: Sesame oil is traditional, but other neutral oils can be substituted.

Gluten-Free Version: Skip asafoetida or use a gluten-free variety.

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