Lemon Rice Recipe | Simple steps to make in 15 mins

Lemon rice is a simple South Indian recipe that is both appetizing and healthy. This is an easy to make dish and the benefits of ingredients like asafoetida and turmeric are immense.

About Lemon Rice 

Lemon rice is a traditional dish from South India that is made by seasoning cooked rice with lemon juice and a variety of spices. It is a popular side dish that is typically served with curries, lentil dishes, and vegetables. Lemon rice is easy to make and is known for its bright and refreshing flavor. It is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger meal.

Why do we love Lemon Rice?

  • It is tangy, lemony, fresh and extraordinarily delicious.
  • It is super easy to make and is ready in under 30 mins. It can be ready in 10 mins, if you have pre cooked or leftover rice.
  • It is an extremely travel friendly food and packs well for picnics and road trips.
  • It is vegan and gluten free. Can be made nut free by skipping the peanuts.
  • It is a great dish by itself or can be had with most Indian curries or chutney as a side.

Ingredients to make Lemon Rice

This recipe is suitable for 4 people

Fresh Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice – 250 gram
  • Onion – 1 medium, finely sliced lengthwise
  • Fresh Curry Leaves – 10-12 leaves
  • Lemon juice- 1 whole squeezed or to taste


  • Turmeric Powder – ½ tbsp
  • Red Chillies – 2 whole
  • Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
  • Peanuts – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Vegetable Oil – 4 tbsp

Step by Step Method to make Lemon Rice


We need perfectly cooked rice.

  1. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. This helps to remove excess starch and dirt from the rice. Soak rice in a bowl for at least 15 mins. You can skip this step if you do not have time. You can cook in a pot or in a pressure cooker.
  2. Cook the rice to grainy and not mushy. Cool it completely and then fluff up the grains.

Make Tempering

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan. On a medium heat, then add mustard seeds. When they splutter for 20-30 seconds add red chilies and peanuts until crunchy and deep golden. Then add asafoetida, turmeric powder and curry leaves.
  2. Sauté for 10-15 seconds and then add sliced onion. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions turn soft.
  3. Now add rice to this mixture, sprinkle salt on top and squeeze lemon juice. Mix well and slowly to avoid breaking the grains.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes for all flavors to blend with the rice. Serve hot with yogurt and pickle.

Nutritional Info 

Nutrition Per Serving Per 100 g
Energy (kcal) 283 225
Energy (kJ) 1,184 941
Carbs (g) 45.5 37.3
Protein (g) 45.5 5.1
Fat (g) 8.3 5.6
Sat. Fat (%) 0.8 0.5
Salt (g) 1.56 1.0
Fiber (g) 2.8 2.1

Pro tips to make Lemon Rice perfectly

  1. Rice: Any non-sticky variety of rice grains can be used in lemon rice recipes. This means you can use short-grained rice or even long grained rice like basmati.
  2. Soaking rice: For any rice recipes, I always suggest soaking rice. It helps in cooking rice faster and the rice grains cook beautifully. If you do not soak rice, then increase the cooking time and add a bit more water.
  3. Leftover rice: Some hours old or a day old leftover rice works excellently in the recipe. Add about 3 to 4 cups of leftover cooked rice.
  4. Spices and lentils: Spices like mustard seeds and either dry red chillies or green chillies are absolutely needed in the lemon rice recipe. You can still let go of urad dal and asafoetida (hing) if they are not available to you.
  5. Herbs: Curry leaves add a unique aroma. If you find it difficult to procure them, then you can skip them. 
  6. Nuts: Both cashews and peanuts add a lot of texture and crunch in lemon rice. You can also just use one type of nut. Do not use nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts etc,.. as the authenticity of the recipe will be lost. 
  7. Lemons: Use lemons which are ripe and fresh. You can also use limes. 
  8. Fats: The fat used to make lemon rice is oil. The oil that is traditionally used is sesame oil made from wood pressed raw sesame seeds. This sesame oil is also called gingelly oil and is very different from the south-asian toasted sesame oil. Sesame oil adds a great deal of nutty flavor. If you do not have sesame oil, then simply use sunflower oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil or any neutral oil. 
  9. Gluten-free version: Skip the asafoetida or use a gluten-free asafoetida in the recipe.

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