Lemon Rice

This is a lemon recipe that I grew up with – lemon rice.  A delicious rice dish that is so easy, you’ll be making it again and again.


The inspiration

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 had a bunch of lemons sitting in my basket.


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

Lemon rice is a very popular rice dish among Tamilians from the Southern part of India. It makes a great picnic food as it tastes great at room temperature and is easy to transport.  The recipe is very simple – add lemon juice to fluffy cooked rice, along with turmeric, asafoetida, mustard seeds, curry leaves, salt and red chili. Toss everything together and serve with crunchy papadum or potato chips. Here I made the traditional lemon rice with a blend of rice and quinoa. Here is the recipe.


Lemon Rice


  • 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
  • Oil


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 just a few seconds. 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 fresh 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 or carrots.

5 thoughts on “Lemon Rice”

  1. Just what we need these Hot Summer Months .. Thx for posting this version with the protein rich quinoa Blend . I love to add Aviyal or Mor kuzhambu as a side dish .

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