South Indian Lemon Rice Recipe
However hard I try, its sometimes inevitable that I am faced with leftovers - esp. rice. But the number of options for using up rice is myriad to say the least. Indian cuisine especially is very good in this regard owing to the fact that rice is a staple. It most often happens that I end up eating the leftovers and recently when this happened - I thought of making the traditional South Indian rice - Lemon Rice.
South Indian Lemon Rice Recipe
It is a classic, made not only during  festive occasions like Pongal but on a day to day basis. I am sure there are many who would remember being packed this for lunch box along with spicy roasted potatoes. Its as elegant as you want it to be and kept as simple as the need arises.  I love recipes which can be dressed up on short notice but otherwise need only minutes to put together. This recipe needless to say is one which I grew up with.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 2 people
  • 3 cups medium grained rice, cooked (or leftovers work too)
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split black lentil
  • 3-5 dried red chillies (or as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp bengal gram (channa dal), presoaked in warm water for 20-30 min.
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • a generous pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp of asafoetida
  • few sprigs of curry leaves
  • 2-3 tsp of sesame oil
  • salt to taste
1. Make sure your rice is not mushy and the grains are separate. If cooking fresh, cook with 2 cups of water instead of 3 for 1 cup rice. Spread this rice on a plate to cool. Add turmeric along with 1 tsp of sesame oil (or more if you like) and mix it along with the rice.
2. Meanwhile in a skillet 1 tsp of sesame oil and when hot, add mustard seeds. When it starts popping, add the lentils, red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves.
3. Now add these to the rice along with the lemon juice. Toss well until mixed well. Add salt as needed.
(optional step) For the aromatics, my mother sometimes, dry roasts  1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, powders it well and then adds it to the rice at the end. It gives a wonderful taste to the rice but make sure you are careful with this powder since even a wee bit excess of it can give a bitter taste to the rice. Serve warm with some papad. We enjoyed it with some Oven roasted potatoes. South Indian Lemon Rice Recipe

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5 Member Reviews

By Mohammad Murshid on May 27, 2014

i am chef in five star hotel in dubai and i also work with south indian chef and i did my internship from south india so i love to experiment with food and ur recepi help me to do this thank you so much

By Raksha on Jun 9, 2013

I made this recipe today. Had to add juice of 2 lemons to get the taste. It was ok ok but my kid loved it.

Read All 5 Reviews →


By praveena on Oct 1, 2016

with all due respect to your super lemon rice, i feel your recipe of lemon rice can be made a little tastier with few more ingredients to add that i do which i have learnt from my mother...the aromatic flavoured lemon rice, which was so said by my malayali colleague of mine comparing my lemon rice to the one generally she prepares...i add finely chopped ginger and sliced green chillies which gives a lot of flavor to the recipe. A few fried ground nuts and some cashew nuts can add to the taste of the lemon rice.

Thank you for the suggestion. They do definitely sound appetizing Praveena :) --DK

By Jyns on May 10, 2016

I need all south Indian recipes ..Bcz I love southy n foody n mad about southern food

By jaya on Mar 18, 2015

:) simple & nice tq for sharing this receipt. love to try it.....

By Monique on Jul 30, 2014

Nice recipe. I use chopped ginger, tumeric, crushed peanuts, curry leaves, green chillies, mustard seeds, juice of lemons and dash of salt. Dish loved by all at home. :-P

By takshu on Jul 5, 2014

Yeeeyy....seems yumm! M gonna try it! 2day itself!

By sujan on Jun 10, 2014

may be i think using half piece of onion and tomato finely chopped and some 8-10 broken cashew nuts .........

By mimi on May 19, 2014

I love this recipe, I'm not south Indian still I love to make this lemon rice and share with my relatives, thank u very much for share this recipe with us :)

By sona on May 4, 2014

it is such a simple dish to make when mom is not there and taste gud :-D

By Anjana on Apr 22, 2014

Awesome recipe! Thanks so much for sharing.

By Lemon Rice | Culinary Pins on Jan 1, 2014

[...] Lemon Rice Tweet (function() {var po=document.createElement('script');po.type='text/javascript';po.async=true;po.src='';var s=document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(po,s);})(); <> Embed @  Email Report Recipe Source: [...]

By Prasad on Aug 22, 2013

How I used to hate seeing this in the lunchbox when I was a little kid :). Only matched by how much I love it now! This, uppittu and mosaranna.

By Shilpi on Jul 21, 2013

:) Looks nice ! I will try for sure ..

By Archu on Jul 16, 2013

Its look too nice and taste is super

By Dee on Jun 27, 2013

Hi DK, I'm trying to make lemon rice using the lemon juice available in US supermarkets. Any recommendations on how much I should use in place of using actual lemon? Thanks!

By D in Denver on Jun 13, 2013

:?: Recipe is quick and easy. When I lived in India I used to be able to get Lemon Masala bullion cubes. I believe they were made by Maggi. Does anyone know where I can find these. One cube of this in some water with uncooked rice and lemon rice heaven!

By Glenn and Pooja » Blog Archive » Black Bean & Lemon Rice Burritos with Garlic Chipotle Salsa on Jun 10, 2013

[...] lemon rice. If my mom were here she’d laugh. Lemon rice is a south indian dish that I used to LOVE as a kid. I mean really love. One day, my mom and I were [...]

By Raksha on Jun 8, 2013

I will try this today. looks good

By Christy on May 29, 2013

This is the best Lemon Rice recipe. I tried this, it came out so well. I am not all that a good cook, but when I try out your recipes, sticking to the measurements , I always find them to turn out so well, much better than all my previous versions of the same dish! I dont try out the variations suggested by others on your recipes, I think your recipes are best left alone :-P :-P

Thank you so much Christy for an ego boosting feedback here as well for the Rasam powder. Guess, we have similar likes :) --DK

By jayaram on May 27, 2013

I like the recipe. It seems to be easy. I will give feed back after I prepare and taste it. By the way, Do you know Off hand, if anybody prepares and sells south indian snacks like chakure and kodebale? i would like to know.

By Weekly Meal Plan – Making everyday cooking easy #4 on May 21, 2013

[...] Lemon Rice + Garlic lemon potatoes [...]

By very tasty on Feb 4, 2013

:-P :-P

By tanya1234 on Jan 27, 2013

thankxxxxxxxxxxxx alot any recipe for lentil cakes

By CANDYE on Jan 12, 2013

:wink: this is amazing very good

By Mjaayka on Jan 11, 2013

nice n easy recipe...thank you :-P

By sujam on Nov 19, 2012

Your photography skill is awsome....which makes me feel hungry

By lalit on Nov 8, 2012

:) its awesome..even i am also northindian but i love this chitranna..just awesome.

By Sunil on Sep 24, 2012

I just had it for my lunch - it was just awesome. I am a North Indian but in love with South Indian food. Thank you South India for serving the real Flavours of India.

By Farida on Sep 7, 2012

Thanks for wonderful recipe it really come out very well

By mmoushumi on Jul 29, 2012

yums is the word ... and thank u for the step by step instruction :)))

By Girish on Jul 23, 2012

to give more volume to the rice (i had only 1 cup rice) & more colourful, I added 1 big onion sliced & fried till golden brown, added cut green chillies, 1 tomato cut into thin wedges, substituted peeled roasted almonds for groundnut and wow... it looked very colourfully delicious....and tasted very nice...

By reshmi on Jul 19, 2012

simplest way to try lemon rice for any first timers.. it easy and fast hassle free.. n it tastes equally gud without the groundnuts if one wants to avoid them

By MM on May 11, 2012

Do you mean lime or lemon? I am American and I notice that my Indian friends call "lemon" what I call "lime." Lemons are larger and bright yellow, while limes are smaller and more green.

Its lemon and not lime --DK

By non-Indian who loves Indian food on Nov 25, 2011

:( I am clearly clueless, but do you have to cook the lentil and channa dal first? How do you get them soft/moist? I've added them as the recipe calls for, but unless it cooks for hours they came out rock hard still - pleasea advise (anyone). I LOVE lemon rice, but just need a little more help.... thanks!

You are right. I have left out some instructions (and spotted a mistake too) and hence have added them. Do soak the channa dal in water for some time (preferably warm/hot water to save time) before roasting them along with other tempering ingredients

By unknown on Oct 4, 2011

:mrgreen: this tastes awesome :-D

By suleman on Sep 20, 2011

can u show the biscuits recipe like osmania and cashew biscuits.easy to make in home. :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

By suleman on Sep 19, 2011

sorry i dont like peanuts can we make this without peanuts :oops: :oops:

yes of course!

By shiela on Aug 29, 2011

Your recipe for lemon rice sounds tasty.Making it was tastier. I also added some fresh coconut slightly roasted in a bit of oil and it did wonders to the taste. Of course you can add one red chilly more when sauting. It makes it irresistible.Thanks

By neha on Apr 11, 2011

this luks absolutely delicious..!!!!!!!!!!!!! i'v read a book wer de had lemon rice 4 dinner almost evry 9t 8-O ..,since den i wanted 2 hav dis one! :-P m very eager to try out :-D

By Aswathy on Aug 11, 2010

:-D I made this yesterday for dinner. Thanks for the step by step recipe . It was over in a jiffy and I even thought of making a second round . :-D

By mansi on Apr 20, 2010

Though I am not a south Indian, I have learnt to make Lemon rice from one of my Telegu auntie. She says that I have mastered the art of making lemon rice now. I love lemon rice and liked ur recipe too, sometimes it happens that the grains of rice were sticking to each other, but now from ur post i know how much water is to be added. Thanks

By Jagruti on Jan 8, 2010

Looks lovely and tasty.........

By Jyothivalaboju on Jan 7, 2010

This is my alltime favourite. I use only green chillies in this lemon rice. I am organising Pulihora Festival from one week in my blog. Have a look.

By Geeth on Jan 7, 2010

It's my favorite rice.Really yummy :-P

By prathibha on Jan 7, 2010

Very simple and nice rice..I love this especially I like making it bit soft,spicy and hot..

By Madhuram on Jan 7, 2010

My grandmother used to roast coriander seeds, chana dal and red chillies; powder it and add it at the end. Just like for tomato rice and mango rice.

By Kiran on Jan 7, 2010

One of my favorites, simple yet full of flavor :lol:

By usha on Jan 7, 2010

yum yum... looks perfect..

By simplyfood on Jan 7, 2010

This looks simple and easy and delicious.

By Asha on Jan 7, 2010

Happy 2010 my dear buddy. Have a great start for the new year. Rice looks delicious, tastes better with day old rice specially. Oggarane anna, as we call this yummy dish in Kannada without adding turmeric, is my fav too. When added sauteed onion, then it becomes Chitranna. Wonders of rice! :))

By Priya on Jan 7, 2010

My favourite rice, can have anytime with spicy fried potatoes,makes me hungry..