Lemon Rice

Posted by Sia | Friday, May 22, 2009 | , , , , , | 14 comments »

We all are familiar with words breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner and their meanings. But there is another magic word often used in South Indian states which evokes fond memories for those living away from their mother land. That magic word is “Tiffin” which actually originated in British India.

The word 'Tiffin' originated when Indian custom superseded the British practice of an afternoon dinner, leading to a new word for the afternoon meal. It is derived from the obsolete English slang 'tiffing', for "taking a little drink or sip".
(Source: Wiki)
Tiffin is between-meals snacks served at most homes in India. It could be light meal or heavy meal depending on the time of the day it served. Most favourite tiffins are Dosa, Idli, Upma and lightly flavoured rice items. One such tiffin item that is loved by many kids and elders alike is Lemon Rice. It is simple, quick and super tasty without the over powering taste of many spices. Lemon rice is usually prepared as a quick fix meal made using left over rice infused with aromatic tempering of roasted spices, lentils and curry leaves. While the heady perfume of lemon adds a tangy note, the nutty crunch of peanuts adds more excitement to otherwise boring plain rice. The chopped onions add nice crunch and sweetness and green chillies is the only ingredient that gives mild spicy note to this dish. Make sure that you restrain from using strong flavoured oil, especially olive oil, as it will simply spoil the taste. If you are lucky enough to have few fresh banana leaves in hand, then wrap this hot rice in it for few minutes to infuse the Lemon Rice with heavenly smell of banana leaf and serve it. Or simply line the plate with banana leaf and serve this Lemon Rice and see your loved ones relishing it with pleasure!
Off this tangy and delicious Lemon Rice goes to Nag's MM-Ravishing Rice, an event initiated by Meeta.

Lemon Rice

Recipe: Lemon Rice (Lemon Flavoured Rice with toasted Peanuts and Spice, Lentils & Curry Leaves Tempering)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins (If using leftover rice) & 30 mins (If using freshly cooked Rice)
Serves: 3-4 People
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic
Recipe/Post by: Sia
2 cups of Rice, washed, rinsed and cooked or 6-7 cups of cooked, left over Rice (Preferably Sona Masuri Rice or Basmati Rice)
1 large Onion, finely chopped (Optional)
2-3 Green Chillies, thinly sliced (Adjust according to taste)
½ cup Roasted Peanuts
1 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
Juice of a fresh Lemon/Lime (Adjust according to taste)
½ tbsp Sugar (Optional, but recommended)
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
½ tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
1-2 Dry Red Chillies, halved
Big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
10-12 fresh Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil

Special Utensils:
Pressure Cooker or large Microwave safe bowl with lid (if using freshly cooked rice)
Wok/Kadai or heavy bottomed pan

Lemon Rice

  1. Lemon rice is usually prepared using leftover rice. If you are using freshly cooked rice then follow the next step or else skip to step number 5.
  2. Wash rice 3-5 times till the water turns clear. Drain all the water and add 4 cups of water to washed rice. (The rice to water ratio when cooking rice is 1:2). Keep it aside for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Cooking Rice in Microwave: Transfer soaked rice along with the water in which it is soaked into a large microwave safe container with lid. Cover and cook for 18-25 minutes (cooking time depends on the type of microwave used) till every rice grain is cooked thoroughly. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes. Add about 1 tbsp of oil and gently separate each grain with the help of a wooden spoon or fork. Keep it aside till needed.
  4. Cooking Rice in Pressure Cooker: Transfer soaked rice along with the water in which it is soaked into a pressure cooker. Close the lid and place cooker weight and cook on medium flame for 2 whistles or 15-20 minutes. Let the pressure release completely (about 10 minutes) before you open the lid. Add about 1 tbsp of oil and gently separate each grain with the help of a wooden spoon or fork. Keep it aside till needed.
  5. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When mustard starts to pop and splutter, add channa dal, urad dal and halved dry red chillies. Sauté it on medium heat till dals turns light golden brown. Now add hing and curry leaves and sauté it for few seconds.
  6. Add finely chopped onion and sauté it on medium flame till onion turns translucent, about a minute or two. To this add green chillies, turmeric powder and sugar and mix well.
  7. Add cooked rice, freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice and salt to taste and mix well till each grain of rice is heated through and the spices are evenly distributed.
  8. Switch off the flame and toss roasted peanuts and mix well. Adjust the seasoning before serving hot with chilled raita and enjoy.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • You can substitute roasted peanuts with cashew nuts that are lightly fried in little ghee for rich flavour.
  • Addition of grated ginger (about half an inch peeled ginger) gives it light spicy flavour.
  • Using gingelly oil will enhance the flavour of this delicious Lemon Rice.
  • Addition of Onions is optional and you can avoid adding it if you are planning on taking Lemon Rice for long journeys (1-2 days).

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  1. Kalyani // 22 May 2009 at 18:42  

    looks very delicious sia ... picture is great ....

  2. Pooja // 22 May 2009 at 18:51  

    Lemon rice looks very delicious! Love the fluffy texture of the rice grains :)

  3. Suparna // 22 May 2009 at 19:32  

    Hi Sia,
    yummy lemon rice, I too like peanuts in lemonrice :)
    the close up snap is cool

  4. Pavithra Kodical // 22 May 2009 at 19:44  

    Lemon rice is my kind of comfort food.Its easy to prepare and tastes great :)

  5. Cilantro // 22 May 2009 at 21:01  

    I love lemon rice and I have a suggestion though....adding onions is good for the taste but Lemon rice spoils soon if onions are added. In most cases lemon rice is made to stay longer otherwise it is fine tastewise. Let me know your thoughts...

  6. Rachel // 22 May 2009 at 21:03  

    My fav. tiffin only second to Dosa..How did you manage to get the lemon slices so thin???

  7. Srivalli // 22 May 2009 at 21:59  

    Picture looks yum sia..

  8. meeso // 23 May 2009 at 02:25  

    That does look so delicious, such a lovely color!

  9. Nags // 23 May 2009 at 06:32  

    using gingelly oil here will make it extra tasty!

  10. rekhas kitchen // 23 May 2009 at 12:07  

    very comfort looks so delicious yummm
    I like my lemon rice little warm for break fast

  11. raj // 23 May 2009 at 12:18  

    i love the fact that you've posted this recipe just when i have about a zillion lemons siiting in my fridge! i know what im having for lunch today :)

  12. Illeen // 23 May 2009 at 19:24  

    Glad u posted..I was just planning to cook something tonight. :)

  13. Vani // 24 May 2009 at 05:42  

    ha ha.. "tiffin" is such a widely used word, right? Looks good, Sup

  14. Sia // 26 May 2009 at 00:24  

    Thank you friends! I am glad to see many of u like this comfort food as much as I do :)

    Cliantro, addtion of onions is optional as I have pointed in the recipe:) and yoy are absolutely right about it getting spoiled (thanks for bringing it to notice) if u thinking of taking lemon rice for long journeys in Inida due to weather conditions.

    Rachel, I use really sharp knief :)

    Nags, thanks for the tip of using gingelly oil. I have added it to the post.

    Raj and Illen, so did u cook and had lemon rice then?