I was swimming in lemons a few weeks ago – over 275 lemons. I posted a recipe for lemonade syrup that used up almost all of them. Guess what? I got another 100 more lemons just last week! Of course I made more lemonade syrup, but I still have a bunch of lemons sitting in my basket.
So I thought let me make a lemon recipe that I grew up with – lemon rice. Mind you, this recipe doesn’t use a lot of lemon – just three in fact, but it’s a great way to make a lemon flavored main dish.
Lemon rice is a very popular rice dish among Tamilians from the Southern part of India. The recipe is quiet simple really – add lemon juice to fluffy cooked rice, along with turmeric, asafoetida, mustard seeds, curry leaves, salt and red chili. Toss together and serve with some papadum or some potato chips. Lemon rice is a popular picnic food as it tastes great at room temperature and is easy to transport. In this recipe I have made the traditional lemon rice but with a combination of a rice and quinoa blend. Here is the recipe.
- 3 cups cooked long-grain rice such as Basmati rice or a mix of half quinoa and half rice.
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1-2 dried red chili – you can remove the seeds and use the red chili for a smoky flavor without the heat
- 1 tsp split black lentil (urad daal) – this gives the rice a nutty fragrance and crunch
- 3-5 curry leaves if you have
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts or cashews (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
Cook rice and set aside for it to cool. Transfer cooled rice into a large serving bowl and fluff the rice. Set aside.
In a pot heat 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Once they stop popping add the split black lentils and toast in oil until it turns a golden brown in color. Turn the stove off and add asafoetida powder, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves and fry in the hot oil for 3-5 seconds. Add this oil to the cooled rice.
To the rice add salt, lemon juice, sugar, chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts if using and toss all the spices and rice together. Lemon rice is ready. Serve at room temperature garnished with chopped cilantro.
Cook’s Notes: Lemon rice tastes wonderful accompanied with Turmeric Spiced Potatoes or with a green beans sauté. To turn lemon rice into a more veggie friendly rice dish, you can add finely chopped cucumbers or cooked green peas, carrots, small broccoli florets or any vegetable of your choice.