South Indian Lemon Rice

South Indian Lemon Rice

The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
760 Calories
33g Fat
105g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 760
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 514mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 105g 38%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 46g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 145mg 727%
Calcium 75mg 6%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 885mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lemon rice is one of the most common dishes from South India, where it also goes by the name chitranna. There are a few variations to making this dish and this is just one of them. This rice is usually eaten alone or with raita, yogurt, chutney, or kosambari (a type of salad). It's not uncommon for people to pack this rice with them while traveling as it transports well.

This dish gains flavor from using whole seeds that you grind yourself in order to release their oils. You might be tempted to skip that step, but it's important. You can easily throw together this rice dish if you are in a hurry, as it can be made with leftover rice. Add some poppadoms on the side for a simple yet tasty meal. You can serve this with curries, fish, and chicken. This rice would also be delicious as a side to add something flavorful alongside a lemon and garlic roasted chicken.


Click Play to See This South Indian Rice Recipe Come Together


  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, canola, sunflower or sesame cooking oil

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 3 to 4 curry leaves

  • 2 green chiles, slit lengthwise

  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated

  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • Juice of 2 lemons

  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice, or leftover rice

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    South Indian lemon rice recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  2. Gently roast and then coarsely grind the coriander seeds into powder. Set aside.

    Spices ground in mortar with pestle

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and green chiles. Fry the mixture until the splattering stops.

    Fry the spices and peppers in oil

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  4. Add the ginger and peanuts. Fry the mixture for another minute.

    Add ginger and peanuts to the pan with the spices

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  5. Add the turmeric powder and turn off the burner.

    add turmeric to the spices in the pan

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  6. Add the lemon juice and mix well.

    Fresh lemon juice added to mixture in pan

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  7. Add the rice, roasted coriander powder, and salt to taste and mix thoroughly. Enjoy.

    South Indian Lemon Rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram


  • If you don't have a mortar and pestle to grind the coriander, you can use a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder instead. If you opt for a coffee grinder, make sure it's extremely clean so the flavors of coffee don't transfer to the spices.

How to Store and Freeze Rice

Store leftover lemon rice in an airtight container for up to three days. You can also store the rice in the freezer in a sealed zip-close freezer bag for up to six months. Simply thaw the rice in the refrigerator or use the microwave. You can also cook it from frozen if you toss it into a curry or other dish with other ingredients as they're cooking.

Recipe Tags: