The Best Lemon Rice!

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lemon rice recipe pin

About Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice is a tangy and flavorful rice dish, also known as Nimbehannu Chitranna or Nimmakaya Pulihora. It is widely popular in Karnataka, a state in South India, and is also known as Nimbehannu Chitranna.

This simple lemon rice recipe is quick to make and can be an awesome tiffin recipe too.

Made by mixing with a special tempering known as Oggarane, which consists of nutty fried lentils, nuts, curry leaves, lemon juice, and other variations.

Medieval Indian cookbooks such as Manasollasa (1130 AD) and Pakadarpana (1200 AD) mention the Chitranna rice dish as “Chitrapaka.”

Try this beloved lemon rice recipe at home, bursting with citrusy goodness from tangy fresh lemon juice, combined with a delightful mix of spices and aromatics, all combined by the warmth of cooked rice!

how to make lemon rice images

Lemon Rice Ingredients

Cooked or Leftover Rice – provides the best texture in this recipe. Freshly cooked rice may become mushy during the cooking process. For best results, use day-old rice. Avoid using overcooked, mushy rice, or fragrant, long-grained basmati rice.

Lemon Juice: is the key ingredient that provides the rice with its distinct citrusy and tangy flavor. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, and adjust the quantity according to personal preference. Make sure to squeeze some fresh lemon juice just before serving.

Nuts: Roasted peanuts and roasted cashews are added to the tempering and roasted until golden brown to add extra crunch and texture to the dish.

You will also love to read: Dal Palak | Spinach Dal Recipe

Spices and Lentils: This rice recipe is all about the perfect tempering, which includes mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal (split black gram), and chana dal (split chickpeas). Adjust the quantity of fresh green chilies and dry red chilies based on your spice tolerance.

Curry Leaves: Curry leaves add a unique aroma and flavor to the rice. These are staples in South Indian cuisine.

How to Make Lemon Rice

Step 1 – Temper with Lentils

Heat a pan on low flame, and add oil to it. Once the oil is hot enough, add chana dal (split Bengal gram), urad dal (split black gram), and mustard seeds. Sauté until they turn golden brown.

Next, add the curry leaves and cumin seeds. Let it crackle.

lemon rice recipe step 1

Step 2 – Roast the Nuts

Add peanuts and cashew nuts to the pan. Sauté for a minute or until the nuts get some color.

lemon rice recipe step 2

Step 3 – Add the Spice

Add the finely chopped green chilies. You can also add one dry red chili at this step. Sauté for a minute.

lemon rice recipe step 3

Step 4 – Add the Seasoning

Add turmeric powder and salt to taste. Squeeze the juice of

lemon rice recipe step 4

Step 5 – Squeeze Lemon Juice

Switch off the flame. Then, squeeze the juice of half of the lemon. Mix well.

recipe step 5

Step 6 – Add the Rice

Add the cooled, cooked rice to the pan. Mix the rice gently to combine with the tempering.

recipe step 6

Step 7 – Mix it Well

Gently toss the rice until it’s well-coated with the tempering and lemon juice.

recipe step 7

Step 8 – Cover & Cook

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 2 minutes.

Lemon is ready to be served. Squeeze some more lemon juice while serving!

lemon rice recipe step 8

Side Dish for Lemon Rice

If you are thinking about what to serve with lemon rice, then choose one or more of these side dishes for a satisfying meal!

  • Papad and Pickle: Crispy papads and spicy pickles are classic side dishes for any Indian meal.
  • Cucumber Raita: Refreshing and creamy raita complements tangy Lemon Rice well!
  • Potato Fry: Fry potato cubes in a mix of turmeric, chili powder, and whole spices. A crispy spicy potato fry that goes well with lemon rice.
  • Tomato Onion Thokku: A spicy and tangy Indian relish made with tomatoes, onions, and a mix of spices.
lemon rice featured image

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Lemon Rice Recipe Pin

Lemon Rice Recipe

In every spoonful of South Indian Lemon Rice, there's a burst of tangy bliss, citrusy freshness, and crunchy nuttiness. Discover the joy of the zesty flavors of this simple rice recipe with a variety of side dishes that add depth and richness to your meal!
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 people


  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon urad dal (split black gram)
  • ½ teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 1 no dry red chili deseeded and broken
  • 2 nos green chilies chopped
  • 5-7 nos curry leaves
  • 1 np small onion sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt as needed
  • 7-8 nos peanuts
  • 5-6 nos cashew nuts
  • 2 tablespoon coriander leaves garnish


  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add the peanuts and cashew nuts to the frying pan until crunchy and then set them aside.
    2 tablespoon oil, 7-8 nos peanuts, 5-6 nos cashew nuts
  • In the same oil, add dry red chili, ½ teaspoon of Urad dal (Split black gram) and ½ teaspoon of Chana dal (Split chickpeas). Fry them until golden brown.
    ¼ teaspoon urad dal (split black gram), ½ teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas), 1 no dry red chili
  • Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves to the pan. Let it crackle.
    ¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, 5-7 nos curry leaves
  • Add the chopped green chilies and the sliced onions to the frying pan. Fry everything on a low flame so that the tempering does not get burnt.
    2 nos green chilies, 1 np small onion
  • Add ½ tablespoon of turmeric powder and two tablespoons of lemon juice.
    ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Quickly, add the cooked rice and salt to the frying pan. Stir the rice and make sure to mix it very well. Take it off the heat. and add the chopped coriander leaves.
    2 cups cooked rice, 2 tablespoon coriander leaves
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice before serving. Serve it with some coconut chutney and pappadums.


  • Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. Avoid bottled lemon juice, as fresh lemons provide a vibrant and zesty taste.
  • Be cautious not to overcook the rice while stir-frying. Overcooking can make the rice sticky and clumpy.
  • Adding lemon juice at the end preserves its freshness.
  • Lemon rice is often served at room temperature. Allow it to cool a bit before serving for the best flavor.
Keyword Lemon Rice, Rice Recipe

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