Introduction: Easy Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is cooked rice with added lemon and spices for colour and flavour. I love it served with a curry or with a green salad in the summer, but it is also great served cold at a picnic. [1]


5 cups white rice (rice cooker cups)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons dried yellow split peas
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 chillies, chopped or minced
2 tablespoons turmeric powder
50 - 100 gram packet of peanuts or cashews
1 or two lemons, juice and chopped zest
Curry leaves (fresh or dried)

[1] If you are going to cool the rice (either because you want to mix it while cool or because you want to serve it cold, then please take care to cool it quickly according to the health guidelines.

Step 1: Cook the Rice

Use the adsorption method to cook the rice. Actually, use a rice-cooker. They are idiot-proof, while every other time I have tried to cook rice has failed miserably.

Use the time that will take (about forty minutes) to get the rest of the stuff done.

Measure out the split peas and soak them in a small bowl of water. They need to be softened a little but not rehydrated, so about half-an-hour is enough. Then drain them, discarding the water.

While the rice is cooking and the peas are soaking, zest and juice the lemon.
Scrub the fruit to get the wax off it, then using a knife or a vegetable peeler, remove the outermost layer of the peel.
Chop the zest finely and then half the lemon and squeeze the juice from it.
Both the zest and the juice can go into the same bowl.

Step 2: Fry the Spices

When the rice is about ten minutes away from ready, put the peanut oil into a big pot over a high heat. It really has to be _big_ because it has to hold all the rice, and still allow lots of room for mixing.

Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them fry for a couple of minutes. It can be useful to keep the lid on for this stage to reduce the number of bits flying around.

Add the split peas and the minced chillies and fry for a couple of minutes.

Turn the heat down to a medium and then add the turmeric, nuts, lemon and curry leaves. Keep stirring that all around for about five minutes while it is gently fried.

At the end of this, it should look pretty much like the first photograph. Turn off the heat under the pot.

Step 3: Add the Rice

When the rice is cooked, add it to the pot.

Then stir and stir and stir some more.

The fourth photograph shows what it looks like at the half-way mark. Coating every grain of rice with the spice mix takes about five minutes of mixing and it's pretty hard going. Smaller quantities are easier, but then you have to do the recipe twice so it's swings and roundabouts.

Breaking up the bigger lumps with the back of the stirring spoon can speed things up a bit.

Step 4: Serving and Modifications

Lemon rice goes great with any spicy food. I also like it cold with a green salad, (but see the comments in the Intro about cooling rice).

It goes well with char-grilled vegetables, and it can even be eaten on its own as a cold lunch.

If you don't like a lot of heat, then leave the chillies out, or add more if you do like a lot of heat.

Cashew nuts can be substituted for the peanuts for a change.

You can add raisins to make it sweeter, but it's best to add some extra liquid for that, by soaking the raisins in water for a few minutes before adding.