Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice is one of the many rice dishes that are an integral part of South Indian Cuisine. It is a flavorful tangy twist to plain white rice. Some of the other varieties of rice from the South are Coconut Rice, Yogurt/Curd Rice, Sesame Rice, Tomato Rice, Tamarind Rice…only to name a few! Try this quick, easy recipe that is so visually appealing. It is sure to spruce up any kind of rice – fresh or leftover.


Cooked Rice – 3 cups

Oil – 1 tbsp

Dried Red Chili – 1

Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Channa Daal – 1 tsp

Raw Peanuts – 1 tbsp

Cashews – 1 tbsp

Urad Daal – 1 tsp

Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp

Asofoetida – pinch

Ginger – 1 tsp, minced

Green Chili – 1, finely chopped (optional)

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig

Lemon/Lime Juice – 2 tbsp or to taste

Salt – to taste

Cilantro – 5 springs, for garnishing


  1. Mix Salt and Lemon Juice to the Rice. Mix well.
  2. In a pan, heat oil and wait for it to get hot.
  3. Once hot, add in the Dried Whole Chili. Break the Chili into the oil for additional spicy flavor.
  4. Add in the Mustard Seeds and let them pop and crackle.
  5. Add i n the Channa Daal and cook for a minute.
  6. Add in Raw Peanuts and cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add in the Cashews, Urad Daal, Turmeric Powder, Asofoetida, Ginger, Green Chilies, Curry Leaves…in that order.
  8. Add in the Rice and mix well but gently.
  9. Keep on the flame till the rice is hot all the way through.
  10. Garnish with Cilantro and it is ready to serve.
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38 thoughts on “Lemon Rice

  1. My husband is a veggie… What curry or side can I serve with lemon rice… My maiden preparation today… N yes… Lemon rice recipe rocks.. Came out well..:)

    1. Hi Neetu,

      You can have it with any vegetable side dish. Potatoes usually are a great combination. Or, you can have it with some raita.

  2. I always goof up this lemon rice pls tell me for two cups of cooked rice how much of concentrated or bottle lemon juice to use ..thank you

    1. Hi Shobana,

      We use bottled lemon juice quite often, but would say that for this recipe, fresh is the best. Since lemon/lime is the predominant flavor here, the bottled juice tends to get too intense.

  3. Here is a LEMON RICE recipe which our family loves, a nice alternative to the above one. It tastes wonderful without the dhals.

    Have 2 cups cooked rice ready to go (keep in fridge until
    you will use it).

    In pan:
    2 tspns oil, Warm (heat the oil)
    Add palm full Mustard Seeds, let them splutter
    Lower heat and add
    Add 4 mirchi chopped (or less if you prefer)
    Add 6 Curry Leaves, add 2 whole Red Peppers

    Spread this on cooked rice,
    Add turmeric tspn to the rice
    Cook 2 minutes over Med high heat
    Add tspn salt………add 2 tspns water if dry.
    Finally, add juice of 3 lemons.


  4. I need a little lesson in urad here. I had black whole urad in my cupboard which is rather strong and earthy and I like to use in combination with moong or masoor for texture contrast. For the purpose of this kind of recipe I purchased white urad. I now see from this video I may have gotten the wrong thing as my beans are still whole even though white. Do I need to go back out and get a split urad? And if so, what is the best use for the whole white urad? Thank you for such a great site. I’m learning ever so much faster from you than I did on my own from cookbooks and coaching from Indian co-workers.

    1. Hi Kristin,

      As you have found, Urad comes in different varieties: whole black, split black, split white and whole white. Whole black is used for daals like Daal Makhani. Whole white is used for dosa or idli batter. Split white is used for seasoning, daals and dosa/idli batter, split black is used for daals. Unfortunately, the split white is the only one that can be used for seasoning (as in this Lemon Rice recipe).

      1. Thanks for such a fast response. So off to the Indian grocery go I again. At least the owner is getting more used to me instead of following the poor Western woman around the store to make sure she doesn’t get lost.

  5. Hello ladies,

    I am from Andhra and thought I would share a tip to make this dish even yummier.
    Before adding lemonnjuice to the rice, mix a power of eaual quantites of roasted cumin & mustard to the rice. For 3 cups rice approximately 1.5 tsps of each will do.
    This powder changes the texture of the rice, adds flavour and absorbs any extra oil!


    1. Hi Gauri,

      Wow! What an interesting addition to lemon rice. We will surely give it a try. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Thanks 4 this recipe. My husband loves lemon rice and I used to get the ready made paste available in the market. You guys have made the recipe look so simple! Thank you so much for sharing the same.

    1. Hi Pia,
      Fresh is always better but there is is nothing to beat the convenience – having said that we try to use fresh when we have it on hand but sometimes the sun, the moon and the stars just don’t align.

    1. Hi Pavithra,

      You can add it in the end. It is just our personal preference (we think the salt and lime juice get infused into the rice during the cooking or heating process rather than just staying over the top).

  7. Hi,

    Thanks for your video and clear instructions. It tasts great but the Dal is rock hard. I put the rice back into a rice cooker to steam it soft. This also kills the flavor. Please advise.

        1. Hi Edna,
          The Dals have to be added in the beginning and they finish cooking once the dish is cooked (they will still be crunchy).
          Hope that explains your question.

  8. Hi,
    The recipe looks delicious and easy , would you have some suggestions on what to serve it with…..

  9. hi ladies,
    In south India we do not use Basmati rice to prepare this dish as it has a unique flavour and it will overpower the lemony taste of the rice.
    we can use ponni or sona masuri.

  10. Hi
    I made lemon rice for the first time today. I used this recipe and my husband loved it! I really liked it too! When making this, one masala egg dish came to my mind, which a friend had served a few years back along with lemon rice.It consisted of boiled and sliced eggs, slightly fried in very little oil, but had kind of tadka thing done to it with some light added masala(powdered). I’m not sure if this is a common/regular kind of side dish served with other main dishes in Southern Indian households, but would appreciate it if you posted the recipe here.

  11. Hello!

    I made this recipe twice now and both my husband and I absolutely love it. My only question is if you can provide nutrition information? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

    Sanja Broer

  12. Hi Meenakshi,
    If you are using leftover rice, any type of rice will work. However, if you make fresh rice for this recipe, you must use a non-sticky rice such as Basmati or any other long grain variety.

  13. Lemon rice is one of the easiest rice dishes to make, I think. So far, I haven’t put in cashews and some of the other things, but the video and picture look so good I’ll have to give this recipe a try as it is.

    Thanks for posting. How about tamarind rice next time?

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