Lemon Rice

This was one of the simpler recipes that didn’t scare me back when I was a beginner in the kitchen.   Today, I cook this whenever I want to whip up something fast and simple, when I don’t feel like eating meat, or when I am swamped with so much work that I refuse can’t cook two different items in one go.  I prefer egg fried rice over lemon rice, but my version of fried rice requires so much cutting and dicing, and a whole army of various sauce bottles that I  decide to go with lemon rice in the end.

I think lemon rice is South Indian in origin.

Anyway, to make this you’ll need:

  • oil
  • cooked rice (I prefer basmati because it looks longer and prettier)
  • a small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon each of chana dal (split chickpea) and urad dal
  • ginger-garlic paste
  • whole, dried red chilies
  • green chilies, chopped
  • cashew nuts, chopped
  • roasted peanuts
  • curry and coriander leaves
  • mustard seeds
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • turmeric and red chili powder (just a pinch of each)
  • salt, of course


  1. I discovered that lemon rice tastes better when the rice used is fresh and steaming hot.  So start by cooking rice.
  2. Season cooked rice with salt.  Add freshly-squeezed lemon juice.  Mix well and keep aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan.
  4. Let some mustard seeds crackle in the pan, then add the chana and urad dal.  Fry for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the cashew nuts and roast until slightly golden-brown.
  6. Add peanuts, green and red chilies, curry leaves.  Fry for a minute.
  7. Add the onion and fry until translucent, followed by ginger-garlic paste (the amount of which will depend on how much rice you have).
  8. Add turmeric and red chili powders, and fry real quick.  We don’t want these spices to burn.
  9. Add the rice (which we earlier seasoned with salt and lemon juice).  Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Some people eat lemon rice with coconut chutney, while some prefer pickles.  I like mine just as it is.


    1. Curry leaves are … well … leaves 🙂 They give off a wonderful aroma when used in cooking. Not only that, curry leaves have a lot of beneficial effects on the body, like it helps the digestive tract to function properly, provides fiber and calcium, used to treat burns and bruises, etc.

      LOL, yeah I remember your fried egg alright 🙂

  1. Hey nadee, being a south-indian & from the origin of Lemon rice to be specific, I have to tell you that this is NOT an authentic recipe for the actual nimmakaaya pulihora.

    “puli-hora” is a Telugu word where in “puli” stands for “pulupu” meaning ‘khatta’ or sour taste & “hora” means strong fragrance or taste. The rice that has a dash of sourness is puli-hora 🙂

    If you are interested, I can give you the original Telugu/Andhra recipe for this rice-make for you to try! And I can also give you the recipe for its sister, chintapandu(tamarind) pulihora. Tamarind rice is also very yummy & easy to make!

    As always, your picture of presenting your idea is wonderful!

    1. Prash, I can’t pronounce the original recipe let alone spell it!

      I am definitely interested in the original recipe! And I’d also love to have the recipe for the … wait, let me cut and paste … chintapandu(tamarind) pulihora.

      Thank you, Prash. You’re the best!

      And I miss you.

  2. Aha! See, I know you can cook…!It might be just a simple recipe, but the end result is the one that matter most. Good work, sis. I am happy for you.

    1. Thank you, sis! Actually, I’ve come a long way in cooking; I’ve improved so much that sometimes I surprise myself 😀 It’s just that along with all the recipes that come out great, there are still times when it doesn’t come out right no matter what I do. And then I get frustrated.

  3. pic looks yummy Nadia 🙂 but like the other reader said I am not sure if this is an authentic south indian lemon rice recipe..will be glad to email you an authentic south indian lemon rice recipe if you want to..



    1. Shubha, this is not the authentic recipe; it’s not even close. This is my version, based on what I saw on different food blogs. But of course, I’d love to get my hands on the original stuff 😀

  4. Another food post is sure making me hungry! 🙂 It’s a south indian dish whether authentic or not,but I’ve not tried it out yet.We Indian muslims here don’t cook so much or maybe not at all, of this variety.Hope to try this someday but I doubt my kids will take a liking to this puli(sour) rice 🙂 And do you know another meaning to puli is? It’s Tiger!! 🙂

    1. Lat, this recipe isn’t really sour; it’s a but crunchy (because of the lentils and nuts) with a delicate taste of lemon juice.

      Tiger? So the dish can be translated as, ‘Tiger Rice’ 😀

    1. That’s okay, Smiley, I didn’t know about lemon rice 4 years ago 🙂

      The taste of lemon doesn’t overpower the rice; there’s just a hint of it. I’m not good at describing tastes, so you’ll have to try it out yourself and let me know.

  5. Okay, this is going to sound really silly… but was the daal cooked? :-$ Will the channa daal soften up enough in a few minutes of frying to be edible?

    Gonna make this with Salmon Steaks today – nom nom 🙂 I found lemon rice suggested as an accompaniment on Chow Hound and I remembered you’d posted a recipe once so.. here I am!

    P.S. I don’t stalk. No, really. Nai, kasam say. 😉

    1. Hey Specs! The dal cooks easily, but you may want to pre-soak it in water for 20 minutes so it softens instantly.

      Your comment went into the spam folder so I didn’t see it right away, and I know by now it’s already too late because you may have already cooked the lemon rice. How did it go?

      I know you don’t never stalk 😉

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