This tangy and spicy lemon rice is is a popular south Indian dish. It makes for a perfect side or or a light meal.
Lemon juice and zest make this rice both tart and bright! Adding a serrano pepper (or two if you’re like my husband) gives it some heat and the dal and peanuts add a bit of crunch. We can’t forget the curry leaves – those give the lemon rice LIFE! And by life I mean an aromatic flavor that can’t be replicated by any other spice or herb – so make sure you get your hands on some (you can find fresh curry leaves for super cheap at your local Indian grocery store or you can pay a small fortune and find them on amazon).
This is the perfect spring/summer dish. You can enjoy this as a light meal served with a side of raita (yogurt thinned out with a bit of water, salt and roasted cumin powder) or as a snack. I crave lemon-flavored food during the warmer months (have you tried my lemon cheesecake with lemon curd yet?). Now we just need spring to get its act together and give us some warmer days!
Have you ever tried lemon rice before? I remember the first time I tried it was at an Indian restaurant many years ago with my husband/then boyfriend (who is south Indian). The restaurant we were at had lemon rice as part of their buffet. I ate (a lot of) it and was amazed – the flavor was just so different than the north Indian food I grew up eating. I remember asking Roby if he had ever tried anything like it before and he literally laughed as his response because he thought I was kidding (the answer was yes… just in case I needed to spell that out). Trust me when I say this is a very popular south Indian dish – loved by kiddos and adults alike.
This past weekend my husband and I were in Miami for an Indian wedding. We left our son, Tony, with his grandparents who threw him an Easter party! My mom made this lemon rice recipe from my cookbook and served it at the party. She said everyone absolutely loved it! Here’s a pic from the party – it’s of my son with his grandpa who is dressed as the Easter Bunny!
You can enjoy this fragrant rice as a light meal, a side dish or a snack. Serve this lemon rice with a side of raita (my beet raita would be great!), salad and a side of Indian pickles (achar).
- 1 cup basmati rice soaked for 15-30 minutes
- 3 tablespoons oil of choice
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon split chickpeas chana dal
- 1 tablespoon split and skinless black lentils split and skinless urad dal
- ⅓ cup raw peanuts*
- 15 curry leaves
- 1 Serrano pepper or green chili slit but intact, adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest optional
- 1 cup water
- Soak the basmati rice in cold water for 15-30 minutes. Drain the water, rinse and set aside.
- Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the mustard seeds, split chickpeas, split/skinless black lentils. After 1-2 minutes, or once the lentils turn golden in color, add the raw peanuts and stir-fry.
- Add the curry leaves, Serrano pepper, ginger, coriander powder, salt and turmeric. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add lemon juice, lemon zest, water and rice. Mix well.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. Open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
- *I prefer using raw peanuts in this dish, which can easily be found at any Indian grocery store or online. You can use roasted peanuts or cashews instead, just wait to add them in with the spices.