South Indian zesty lemon rice or quinoa

lemon rice
Lemon rice is a classic South Indian style preparation. It is a tangy stir fry rice flavoured by the elaborate tempering the good old turmeric and big squeezes of the lime. It is one of the common ones spotted on festival days as a Kalanda Sadam. Lemon rice is more so reputed in railway travels were “saadam kattu” works as Hygenic affordable meals on the go. Call it elumachai saadam, chithranna or naranga pothichooru, they all come down to this soul-satisfying rice mix.
The memories of the lemon rice in the lunch box at school mean mom has a busy day and it was fun to have this in the box. This rice mix was absolutely thrilling as she served it with Kathrikai podi varuvall, papad and a bit more of her Citron lemon pickle. This memory has made me work the humble lemon rice into the weekly menu. It leaves me with a feeling that I have achieved a great one on a perfectly horrendous day.
This recipe is the first on that my mind raced to as soon as Aruna mentioned Ginger and turmeric as secret ingredients. We have partnered up to work together for for the Shhh cooking secretly cooking Challenge. The group features recipes from a region as explored by the blogger. We work in pairs creating recipes based on a couple of secret ingredients picked by our blogger buddy for the month. This season we are working on recipes from Tamil Nadu. Aruna blogs at Vasus veg kitchen where she creates some mouth watering Indian treats. It is always been so exciting to be on the group and come up with something new. This time it was comforting as Tamilnadu is home cuisine.

Varieties unlimited

The ease of making the recipe with leftover rice and the flavours as you open lunchbox just makes all that morning craziness settle. However, you can swap the rice with steamed cauliflower rice, gluten free buckwheat, millets or quinoa for a healthier swap.

 For kids- try this lemon macaroni version.

Similarly, I absolutely adore this combo version too as we split in opposite directions as a family when it comes to lemon rice as we have a few not so fond of it.

Peas and lemon rice pulao

Go on, fill up your lunch box and get set go this week.
On a separate note, Lemon rice is one of the no onion no garlic, favourite ” variety rice” for ramanavami, Navratri, Aadi 18, or on the Deepavali menu. So save this recipe when you are celebrating it is an absolute blessing to have some go-to recipes.
Pin it here for later use. 
Don’t miss to tag us when you try out these recipes. Stay on with us and subscribe to our mailing list.
lemon rice

South Indian zesty Lemon Rice

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Dish, Traditional
Cuisine Autumn, gluten free, Indian, One pot, South indian, Summer, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 4


to cook rice

  • 1 cup Raw rice (You can use any short to medium grain non sticky rice)
  • 2.5 cups drinking water
  • 1 pinch salt

for the tempering

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil ( my personal preference is coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 1-2 small Green chillies slit lengthwise
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger root grated
  • 2-3 tbsp peanuts
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder ( or 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric)
  • 1 pinch Asafoetida

For garnish

  • 4-6 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp corinader leaves chopped


To cook the rice

  • Wash and soak the rice for 10 minutes
  • Cook the rice in instapot or pressure cooker to a fluffy yet grains sperate consistency. You can cook the same in a saucepan as well, then you will need a bit more water.
  • Set the rice aside to cool for a while.
  • Fluff with a fork when cook.

To prepare the tempering

  • Heat a wok and add the oil.
  • As the oil warms up add the mustard seeds and urad Dal
  • when the mustard spleuuers, add the green chillies, curry leaves, ginger, asafoetida, and peanuts and saute well. If using fresh turmeric add it at this stage
  • Saute well till the peanuts are crispy.
  • Add the turmeric powder and remove from heat

to complete the recipe

  • Add the cooked, cooled, fluffed rice and mix well
  • Add the lemon juice, salt if needed and the chopped coriander and mix till the grains of rice are well coated with the tempering and the lemon.
  • Serve with a side of crispy papadams, or any side stirfry of rice.
    lemon rice
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Subscribe & Follow

You Might Also Like

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rafeeda - The Big Sweet Tooth
1 year ago

I have always wanted to make lemon rice but somehow since we aren’t fans of its tangy flavor, I am always varied on how it will be accepted. I totally love how your dish looks, that light yellow color is super tempting…

Jayashree T.Rao
1 year ago

I often end up making this dish, it is tasty and easy to make. On other days, I do add onion to it. Nice click Seema.

The Girl Next Door
1 year ago

I absolutely adore lemon rice! It often finds pride of place on our dining table, as everyone in the family loves it. 🙂

You’re so right – this is such an easy thing to make, yet so delicious. Perfect for family gatherings or outings.

1 year ago

It’s a favourite at our place after Chinese fried rice.. beautiful yellow color of rice with crunchy peanuts. Looks so flavourful!!

Poonam Bachhav
1 year ago

I just adore this tangy spicy lemon rice. You have presented it so beautifully Seema !

Sujata Shukla
Sujata Shukla
1 year ago

Such a flavourful and refreshing looking dish! And easy to make too! The peanuts are certainly the ‘icing on this cake’! Such fine grains of rice, it looks almost like lemon sevai, another dish that I love.

1 year ago

Lemon rice looks very colorful and tasty, the way you presented it is very inviting . One of our family favorite dish which we prepare it regularly for almost every festivals.

Mayuri Patel
1 year ago

I’m a huge fan of lemon rice ever since a neighbor of mine shared it with me. Its such a refreshing and filling rice dish. I actually enjoy it on its yogurt or chutney required.Love your presentation.

1 year ago

I love lemon rice but have never added ginger to it. Will try your version once, as ginger do even helps in digestion. The lemon rice looks delicious

Priya Vj
1 year ago

One of my favorite flavored rice varieties. At times I do add some capsicum to this lemon rice. Gives a nice flavor to the rice

priya satheesh
1 year ago

Oh wow.. I am a big fan of lemon rice! Perfectly made and ever green lunch box dish 🙂

1 year ago

I call lemon rice as “yellow rice” at home, coz personally, I love the lemon rice to have huge favours of green chilli and turmeric along with deep fried curry leaves than the lemon juice 🙂 addition of ginger is totally new to me.. must try it sometime with that combo..

1 year ago

I personally love lemon rice and yours look amazing. With some vadagam I can have this whole day.

Sujata Roy
1 year ago

Lemon rice looks so tempting. Its one of my most favorite rice dishes. Loved your well explained recipe.

1 year ago

Lemon rice is my go to recipe for a lazy sunday dinner..this with some thair pachadi would be heavenly

1 year ago

Lemon rice is such comfort food and we always make them when we travel or lunch boxed. It looks so delicious.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x