Lemon rice, also known as chitranna or nimmakaya pulihora, is a crunchy, flavorful and tangy dish that is easy to prepare and tastes so good. Fried nuts, herbs, lemon juice and spices combine perfectly to give this steamed rice an amazing nutty, spicy and tangy flavor. Nuts add a crunch for the perfect texture of the rice dish. This vegan lemon rice recipe is sure to become one of your favorite dishes made from rice.
About this recipe
It is one of the most popular and commonly prepared rice recipes in South Indian cuisine. I have eaten lemon rice in many restaurants and even in a few temples in South India.
Easy to make, my lemon rice recipe features a blend of fried mustard seeds, urad dal (black gram), chili peppers (hot green peppers), herbs and spices.
For cooking rice
▢ 1 cup of rice (piled) or 3 to 4 cups of cooked rice
▢ 1.75 to 2 cups of water
▢ ¼ teaspoon of salt or add as needed
▢ 1.5 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice or add as needed
▢ 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
▢ 1 teaspoon of urad dal (peeled and peeled black gram)
▢ 2 dry red peppers – preferably without seeds
▢ 1 teaspoon chopped green peppers or 1 to 2 chopped green peppers
▢ 12 to 15 curry leaves
▢ 1 generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
▢ ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
▢ 1 tablespoon cashews – chopped or halved (optional)
▢ ¼ cup peanuts – optional
▢ 3 tablespoons of sesame oil (gingelly oil) or any other neutral oil
▢ salt as needed
Also Read: Peas Pulao | Matar Pulao (Green Peas Pilaf)
Soak the rice
- Rinse the rice grains several times and soak them in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Then strain all the water from the soaked rice.
Pressure cooking on the stove
- Cook the rice in a 2-3 quart pressure cooker with salt and 1.75 to 2 cups of water for 2-3 whistles or 8-10 minutes over medium to medium-high heat.
- When the pressure sets in by itself in the pressure cooker, remove the lid. Remove the cooked rice to a plate or bowl.
- 1 cup of rounded rice will make 3 to 4 cups of rice. It will depend on the type and quality of the rice.
- Let the cooked rice warm or cool to room temperature
Cooking rice in a pan or pot
- Take rice, salt and 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the rice grains are tender and frothy.
- Watch when the rice is simmering and if the water has dried out leaving the rice grains undercooked, add a little hot water and continue cooking.
- Place the cooked rice in a bowl or tray to cool it.
Instant pot method
- Add rice, salt, and 1 or 1.25 cups of water (depending on the type and grade of rice) to the 6 quart IP steel insert.
- Cook under pressure for 5 minutes at high power. Quickly release the pressure after 5 minutes.
- Empty the cooked rice into a plate or bowl to let it cool to room temperature.
Fry the nuts
- In a small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. First fry the peanuts until crispy and then set them aside.
- In the same oil, brown the cashews until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
- Now, to the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Keep the flame low.
- Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the urad dal, once the mustard seeds begin to crackle.
- Fry until the urad dal is golden. Fry everything over low heat, so that the lentils do not burn.
- Then add the red peppers, green peppers (chopped) and curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds until the red peppers change color.
- Switch off the stove and add the asafoetida and turmeric powder. Mix very well
Make lemon rice
- Immediately pour this tempering mixture over the cooked and cooled rice. Add the cashews and fried peanuts, lemon juice, salt. Mix very well.
- Keep the bowl or saucepan covered for the flavors to blend for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Then serve the lemon rice.
- When ready to serve, you can choose to garnish the chitranna with a few chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).