South Indian Lemon Rice

Spices for Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is a South Indian dish, often served with dosa (filled lentil pancakes), sambar (a cross between a soup and a dhal), and rasam (a hot and sour soup). It’s not very traditional, but I think the zingy rice makes a fantastic accompaniment to rich, creamy curries.

In this recipe, turmeric is added to the simmering rice, giving it an attractive yellow colour. You could also use some star anise, cinnamon or sesame seeds for extra flavour. You can also add some toasted cashew nuts.


  • 200g basmati rice
  • ½ tsp turmeric (to be cooked with the rice)
  • groundnut oil
  • butter (or ghee)
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 4 dried red chillis, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric (to be cooked with the spices)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. Rinse the basmati rice and leave to soak in water while you bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Add the rice to the boiling water and add the turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook the rice until it’s “just” done – a minute or so less than the time stipulated on the packet. Taste a few grains every now and then to ensure you have an “al dente” texture.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander and set over a pot of simmering water to keep it warm.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil and large knob of butter (or ghee, if using) in a large pot until sizzling. Add the curry leaves,  red chillis, mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin seeds, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the mustard seeds start to pop.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the yellow spice mixture and stir-fry for a minute to warm through. Add the chopped fresh coriander and mix well. Serve.

Serves 2.


1 Response to “South Indian Lemon Rice”

  1. 1 South Indian Lamb Curry | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm
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