Delicious Lemon Rice Recipe to Tantalize Your Taste Buds

Welcome, foodies! Are you ready to embark on a flavor journey that will take you straight to the bustling streets of Southern India? If so, I’m excited to share with you an authentic rice dish recipe that’s been passed down for generations: Lemon Rice, also known as “Elumichampazham Sadam.”

This tangy and flavorful dish is a staple in South India, where rice is a staple grain. With mustard seeds, cumin seed, curry leaf, cilantro, and fresh coconut adding depth to the flavor profile of this already mouthwatering dish, you won’t be able to get enough!

It is both vegetarian and gluten-free. So whether or not you adhere to those dietary restrictions, this dish promises to satisfy your taste buds beyond your wildest expectations.

Now is the perfect time to mix up your cooking routine with something new and delish. Prepare your taste buds because we’re about to embark on a trip through traditional South India cuisine. Ready? Let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Lemon Rice ( a Dish from Southern India )
Lemon Rice ( a Dish from Southern India )

Are you tired of the same old bland rice dishes? Do you want to try something new and exciting? Then, look no further than this Lemon Rice recipe from Southern India! I promise you won’t regret it.

This tangy and flavorful rice dish is a treat for your taste buds. The combination of fresh lemon juice, turmeric powder and asafoetida powder create a deliciously vibrant flavor that proves to be a perfect side dish for any meal. The best part is that it’s so easy to make – all you need is cooked rice and a few spices.

Not only is this recipe bursting with flavor, but also healthy too! This South Indian Lemon Rice recipe uses fresh coconut, cilantro and onions which are nutrient-packed ingredients. Moreover, the dish can be easily modified to fit your personal taste preferences. Add more green chilies or adjust the heat level according to your liking.

Lemon Rice not only looks stunning on your dinner table but it also pairs well with an array of main dishes such as Tandoori chicken or other Indian dishes. Additionally, if you have leftover rice in your refrigerator, this recipe is perfect for jazzing up plain cooked rice – no need to throw it out or worry about wasting food.

In summary, this traditional South Indian Lemon Rice recipe will undoubtedly tantalize your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied. With its quick preparation and endless customization options, it’s the perfect side dish for any meal. So come on, give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredient List

 Zesty lemon infused rice
Zesty lemon infused rice

Before we start mixing the lemon rice, let’s prepare the ingredients first. Here are the key ingredients that you will need to have on hand:


Any kind of cooked rice will work, but traditional South Indian lemon rice uses short grain rice such as sona masuri or jeera rice. Basmati rice will also work well.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is the star of this dish. It provides a unique tangy and flavorful taste to the rice. You will need about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to mix into the rice.

Tempering ingredients

The following ingredients are used in the tempering process, which is what gives the lemon rice its special flavor.
Mustard seeds
Urad Dal
Chana dal
Cumin seeds
Asafoetida powder
Curry leaves

Vegetables and spices

Aside from the tempering ingredients, you will also need these items:
Onion (diced)
Green chilies (sliced)
Turmeric powder
– Salt, to taste


Adding garnish makes the dish look more appetizing and flavorful. We recommend using freshly shredded coconut and finely chopped cilantro as a garnish for your south Indian lemon rice dish.

The Recipe How-To

 Taste the flavors of Southern India
Taste the flavors of Southern India

In this section, we will get into the nitty-gritty of preparing our Lemon Rice. Follow these steps carefully to achieve a tangy and flavorful dish that’s perfect on its own or as a side dish to your favorite Indian dishes.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cooked rice (basmati rice works best)
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro and grated coconut for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  2. Add in the urad dal, chana dal, curry leaves, and chopped green chilies. Fry for a few seconds till the dals turn golden brown.
  3. Add the sliced onions and fry until they are translucent.
  4. Add asafoetida powder and turmeric powder and stir well.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool down for a minute.
  6. Mix in the cooked rice with light hands until all of it is coated with the tempering.
  7. Now add salt to taste and lemon juice start mixing once again.

Note: The lemon juice should be added only once you removed from heat.

  1. Your Lemon Rice is ready! Garnish with freshly-chopped cilantro and grated coconut before serving.

Tips for Perfect Results

To get perfectly fluffy cooked rice, wash and soak the grains in water for half an hour before cooking. Once the rice is cooked, let it cool down completely before proceeding with the recipe.

When working with tempering spices, remember to measure out your ingredients beforehand and have them ready to add quickly.

For best results, mix the cooked rice with light hands to avoid crushing the rice grains and making it mushy.


  • Can I make lemon rice with leftover rice?
    Yes, you can! In fact, using leftover rice works best since it has a lower moisture content.

  • What is asafoetida powder?
    Asafoetida powder is a spice used in Indian cooking that has a strong, pungent odor. It is derived from the sap of the ferula species of plants and is used as a digestive aid in Indian cuisine.


Now that you know how to prepare this traditional South Indian dish, you can enjoy a delicious bowl of Lemon Rice anytime. You won’t be disappointed by this tangy and flavorful dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

Substitutions and Variations

 A vibrant and visually pleasing dish
A vibrant and visually pleasing dish

In the world of cooking, substitutions and variations can breathe new life into classic recipes. The same holds true for this South Indian lemon rice dish. While the traditional recipe is a delightful blend of lemon and rice, there are ways to switch it up and make it your own.

Firstly, let’s talk about the rice. Though many recipes use cooked rice, you can use basmati rice instead. Basmati rice is a long-grain rice that has an aromatic flavor and distinct texture. It pairs perfectly with lemon and makes for fluffy and tender lemon-infused grains.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try substituting the cilantro with fresh shredded coconut. Not only will it add a unique flavor profile to the dish, but it will also contribute a nice texture that plays well with the fluffiness of the rice.

Additionally, if you want to add some heat to this tangy flavorful side dish, throw in some green chilies. These chilies have a bright flavor that adds depth without overpowering the other ingredients.

One versatile aspect of this dish is that it can be prepared in many ways. For instance, instead of using mustard seeds as the tempering agent, you can use cumin seeds or a combination of mustard and cumin seeds.

You can also play around with using different types of lentils for added protein and fiber. Chana dal (without its skin), urad dal (split black beans), or even yellow moong dal are all great options.

Finally, if you’re not a fan of lemon juice but still want to make something similar to this South Indian chitranna or elumichampazham sadam dish, try using lime juice as an alternative. Lime juice has a similar level of acidity and tanginess as lemon juice, making it an excellent substitute.

In essence: don’t hesitate to experiment with ingredients and techniques to make Lemon Rice your own signature dish!

Serving and Pairing

 Perfectly cooked grains with a citrus twist
Perfectly cooked grains with a citrus twist

When it comes to serving and pairing this delicious South Indian lemon rice, there is no right or wrong answer. You can serve this dish as a side dish with any Indian dish or Tandoori chicken of your choice, or you can enjoy it as a main meal in itself.

I love to pair this tangy flavorful rice with some sweet and spicy mango pickle and papadum, which adds a crunchy texture to the soft and sticky rice grains that are coated with the fragrant spices and lemony flavors.

For a complete meal, you can also add some crisp roasted papad for extra crunch or make some vegetable stir-fry with onion, green chilies, curry leaves, and fresh coconut on the side.

This delightful rice dish blends well with most traditional South Indian dishes, such as rasam or sambar soups, dal fry, or chicken curry. It is also an ideal dish to pack for lunch as it stays fresh for hours and can be reheated quickly in the microwave.

Overall, when it comes to serving and pairing lemon rice, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations according to your mood and taste preferences. The possibilities are endless!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A burst of sunshine on your plate
A burst of sunshine on your plate

Are you worried about leftovers? Well, you needn’t be! Lemon rice is a dish that stores beautifully and reheats easily. In fact, it’s best to make it ahead of time and let it cool to room temperature before storing it.

To store leftover lemon rice, simply place it in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the lemon rice for up to 1 month in an airtight container. When reheating the frozen lemon rice, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

To reheat lemon rice, simply take it out of the refrigerator or freezer (after defrosting) and warm it up in a microwave or on a stove. If you’re using a microwave, cover the lemon rice with damp paper towels to prevent it from drying out. Then microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until heated through.

If you prefer to reheat your lemon rice on the stove, simply transfer it to a pot or pan along with a tablespoon of water or broth. Heat on medium-high while stirring occasionally until heated through.

One thing to keep in mind when reheating lemon rice is that it tends to dry out as it heats up, so be sure to add a little bit of water or broth as needed to keep it moist and fluffy.

Lemon rice makes for fantastic leftovers and is perfect when you need an easy and quick meal. Just store it properly and reheat gently for a delicious meal that tastes just as good as when you first made it.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The perfect side dish for any meal
The perfect side dish for any meal

When it comes to preparing Lemon Rice, there are a few tips that will help you achieve a perfectly tangy and flavorful dish.

Firstly, using freshly squeezed lemon juice will make a significant difference in the overall taste of the rice. The bright and zesty flavor of fresh lemon juice adds an invigorating touch to the rice that bottled lemon juice simply cannot match.

Secondly, it is essential to cook the rice correctly before mixing it with the other ingredients. The rice should be cooked to perfection, and not overly sticky or clumpy. Basmati rice is often the preferred choice for its light and fluffy texture.

Thirdly, pay close attention to the tempering process. It is crucial to heat the oil until it shimmers before adding the mustard seeds and other spices. This will release their full aroma and flavor, which will infuse into the dish once they are mixed with the cooked rice.

Fourthly, while stirring the spices during tempering, take care not to let them burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. This can lead to a bitter taste and ruin the dish entirely.

Lastly, adding some freshly grated coconut and cilantro at the end can add freshness and texture to your Lemon Rice. These ingredients also complement the tangy flavor and give a traditional South Indian touch.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your Lemon Rice turns out perfectly every time. So go ahead and prepare this delicious South Indian rice dish with confidence!


Before diving into the FAQ section, let’s take a moment to appreciate the tangy and flavorful rice dish that is the South Indian Lemon Rice, also known as Chitranna or Elumichampazham Sadam. This traditional South Indian recipe is a popular side dish and can be enjoyed with a variety of entrees such as Tandoori Chicken or other Indian dishes. The rice is cooked with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, onion, and green chilies. The key ingredient in this recipe is fresh lemon juice that adds brightness and zing to the grain rice. With all its vibrant flavors and textures, this recipe has landed amongst my favorite rice recipes. Now, let’s address some of the frequently asked questions about making Lemon Rice!

What is the most popular rice dish in India?

Rice is a staple food in Indian cuisine, and one of the most popular ways of preparing it is through flavorful and aromatic dishes like biryani, pulao, and khichdi. These dishes are beloved for their versatility and unique flavor profiles, made possible through the use of a wide range of spices and aromatics. Beyond these classic dishes, there are other rice-based specialties like tomato rice, bisi bele bath, lemon rice, curd rice, and jeera rice, which offer their own distinct flavors and textures. From hearty and filling to light and refreshing, these dishes have something for everyone.

Which rice is eaten in South India?

Red rice that has been parboiled is a popular ingredient in Kerala cuisine with various types such as Thondi, Matta, Paal Thondi, Kuruva, Chitteni and Chettadi. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Seeraga Samba is a fragrant type of rice that is often referred to as the ‘Basmati of South India’ and is frequently used in making biryani.

What do you eat with lemon rice?

In this recipe article, we’ll be exploring a range of Indian dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. From delicious Tandoori Chicken Skewers to flavorful Kerala Fish, and tasty Indian Butter Chicken, we’ll be covering it all. Additionally, we’ll share some tips for making the perfect Raita, and a delectable Indian Coconut Lentil Curry. Finally, we’ll conclude with a recipe for Baked Tandoori Chicken (or Tofu!) and Veggies. So, get your aprons on and let’s dive into the world of Indian cuisine!

What is the meaning of Chitrannam?

A popular South Indian dish called Chitranna or lemon-rice is made by combining cooked rice with a unique seasoning referred to as Oggarane or Gojju.

Bottom Line

After experiencing the tangy and flavorful taste of Southern Indian lemon rice, it’s hard not to fall in love with this dish. This recipe has been passed down for generations, and it’s no surprise why. Lemon rice is a staple in Indian cuisine and can be enjoyed as a main course or side dish.

With simple yet essential ingredients like cooked rice, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, and lemon juice, you can easily make this delicious meal in just a few easy steps.

What’s more, the versatility of this dish means you can modify it to fit your taste preferences. Add some extra spice with green chilies, increase the tanginess with additional lemon juice or experiment with different variations that incorporate flavors you love.

In conclusion, South Indian lemon rice should definitely be added to your recipe collection. Not only is it an excellent representation of traditional South Indian cuisine, but also its perfect blend of zesty and savory flavors is hard to resist. So whether it’s served hot, cold, as a side dish, or on its own – it’s a must-try recipe that will satisfy your taste buds.

Lemon Rice ( a Dish from Southern India )

Lemon Rice ( a Dish from Southern India ) Recipe

I have had this recipe for a long time now, so, I dont know where it comes from. But, I can describe it as unbelievably easy and unbelievably easy. I use dessicated coconut because that's what I have on hand usually. Also, you could omit the curry leaves and asafoetida if you are unable to find them or have them on hand. It will impact the taste, but the rice still would taste good.
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Cook Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Calories 369.1 kcal


  • 2 cups cooled cooked rice (using basmati rice would definitely be a plus)
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 stalk curry leaf
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh coconut
  • 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon Urad Dal (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 -3 pinches asafoetida powder
  • salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tablespoon oil


  • Heat oil, add seeds, and dal. Allow to splutter.
  • Add green chillies, curry leaves, onions, asafoetida
  • Cook till onions are light pink.
  • Add rice, turmeric, salt, lemon, coriander, coconut.
  • Stir gently till well mixed.
  • Cover and simmer till steaming hot.
  • Serve hot.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 167gCalories: 369.1kcalCarbohydrates: 67.4gProtein: 6.4gFat: 8.4gSaturated Fat: 1.8gSodium: 6.8mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 6.2g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Asian, Indian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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