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Indian Lemon Rice

by Sophie

Indian Lemon Rice – spicy, tangy, and delicious – and, made under 30-minutes in the instant pot. This classic south-Indian dish is a must-try recipe. Here is my version of Instant pot Lemon Rice.

Mealthy MultiPot:

Mealthy Multi pot

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Lemon Rice, or Chitrana as they call it, is a famous spiced rice dish from South India. It has onions, lime or lemon juice, turmeric, crunchy peanuts, and a spicy tadka or tempered spices flavor. Classic south Indian flavors explode in this rice dish as we use a copious amount of curry leaves, fresh chilies, gram dal or lentil and mustard seeds for tempering this rice. Fragrant basmati rice literally gets a flavorful and zesty makeover when seasoned with the tadka and lime or lemon juice. And to make this dish, even more, simpler, I have the Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker version for you. The best part is you dump, yes, literally dump everything inside the pot and pressure cook till you get that perfect Indian Lemon Rice.

Each part of India has its own version of Lemon Rice. The eastern part, where I am from, is famous for ghee-lemon rice where lemon juice is used instead of lime juice and made fresh with ghee. It’s a lighter and non-spicy version of the yellow turmeric-based lemon rice we see in southern India.

Ingredients for the Lemon Rice:

This recipe requires only a handful of ingredients. 2 tsp Oil or ghee (if vegetarian), 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp Bengal gram lentil and black gram lentil (no skin), 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger, 2 dry red chili, ½ red onion – sliced, few green chilies, and a handful of curry leaves, ½ tsp turmeric powder, juice of 1 lime or more if required, salt to taste and roasted peanuts and cilantro to garnish. 2 cups of basmati rice – washed, rinsed, and soaked in 2 cups of water

Why Should You Cook Lemon Rice in the Instant Pot?

Instant Pot cooking is always quicker than the stovetop version and it requires no babysitting your food. Which means while the rice cooks, you can do some other work and your instant pot will beep once your food is ready. And it takes just four minutes of cooking time. Yes, it’s that simple and easy.

How to Make Indian Lemon Rice in Instant Pot?

  • Wash and rinse the rice. Soak it in an equal amount of water and set it aside.
  • Click on the sauté function of the instant pot and add a tsp of oil in the pot. You can add more oil if you want but it’s not required.
  • Add all items listed under the tempering section in the order listed. After the seeds pop, add curry leaves and green chilies and wait for 30-seconds before adding ginger and sliced onions.
  • Mix well and wait till the onions are lightly brown but not fully cooked. Add turmeric, salt, washed and rinsed rice and the water. Stir well.
  • Add half of the lime or lemon juice at this point and mix well. Now close the lid and seal the vent. Set the instant pot to the pressure cook mode and add 4 minutes of cooking time. After the beep, wait for the natural pressure release and open the lid.
  • By using a fork, fluff the rice and add lime or lemon juice. Add roasted peanuts and chopped cilantro. Gently mix the rice. Serve hot with any Indian side.

NOTE: You can add two tablespoons of chopped cilantro while cooking and it will have a fresh, herby flavor. Add 1 tsp of ghee (vegan or vegetarian) after the rice cooks. It enhances the flavor. You can skip roasted peanuts and add roasted cashew to the dish.

Check these other popular Indian dishes from my blog.

Easy Indian Lemon Rice

Indian Lemon Rice

Classic, Indian Lemon Rice inspired from the traditional South Indian cuisine but made in the instant pot for a quick yet flavorful result.
5 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: 30-minute vegan dinner, dairy-free, easy vegan seitan, Indian instant pot, instantpot recipes, southindian lemon rice, vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 315kcal
Author: Sophie

Equipment

  • Instant pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice (Washed, rinsed and soaked in 2 cups of filtered water)
  • Salt to taste

Tempering

  • 1 tbsp Chana dal or Bengal Gram lentils
  • 1 tbsp Urad dal or Skinned Black Gram
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
  • 2 Dry red chilies
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • 3-4 Green chilies (Slit)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp Grated ginger
  • 1/2 Red Onion Sliced length-wise
  • 1 Lemon or 2 lime juiced

Garnish

  • 1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro

Oil/Ghee

  • 1 tsp for 1 cup of rice
  • 2 tsp for 2 cups of rice
  • 1 tsp Ghee Garnish only (optional)

Instructions

  • Wash and rinse the rice. Soak it in an equal amount of water and set it aside.
  • Click on the sauté function of the instant pot and add a tsp of oil in the pot.
  • You can add more oil if you want. Add all items listed under the tempering section in the order listed.
  • Always remember to add curry leaves and green chilies after the seeds pop and wait for 30-seconds before adding ginger and sliced onions
  • Mix well and wait till the onions are lightly brown but not fully cooked. Add turmeric, salt, washed and rinsed rice and the water. Stir well.
  • Add half of the lime juice at this point and mix well. Now close the lid and seal the vent. Set the instant pot to the pressure cook mode and add 4 minutes of cooking time. After the beep, wait for the natural pressure release and open the lid.
  • By using a fork, fluff the rice and add lime or lemon juice. Add roasted peanuts and chopped cilantro. Gently mix the rice. Serve hot with any Indian side.

Notes

  • NOTE: You can add two tablespoon of chopped cilantro while cooking and it will have a fresh, herby flavor.
  • Add 1 tsp of ghee (vegan or vegetarian) after the rice cooks. It enhances the flavor.
  • You can skip roasted peanuts and add roasted cashew to the dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 43mg | Fiber: 2g

Want to pin this recipe? Click here to Pinit !

Indian inspired lemon rice with spicy punch, made in the instant pot
Pinit

What to Serve With Indian Lemon Rice?

Indian lemon rice is served with yogurt or raita, pickle, and papadum. However, you can always pair it with any curry or lentil dishes of your choice.

Why do we squeeze lemon juice on to rice or dal?

Lemon juice, being acidic in nature, helps to keep the rice white while cooking. When squeezed in lentil or daal while cooking, lemon juice helps to make it more digestion friendly. In addition, a dash of lemon juice on cooked rice and daal adds a nice, tangy flavor.

What kind of rice do Greek restaurants use?

Greek restaurants use short-grain white rice, long grain brown rice, and sometimes the Orzo pasta which resembles the grains of rice.

How is Greek Lemon rice different from Indian Lemon rice?

Indian lemon rice is a spiced rice that uses turmeric, herbs and onion. In contrast, the Greek lemon rice uses garlic, dill and a meat-based broth.

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18 comments

Jamie October 16, 2019 - 3:16 pm

5 stars
I’m definitely going to try this recipe. I’ve had this fragrant rice many times in Indian restaurants but had no idea what went into it until now. Thanks for explaining it in such detail!

Reply
Jacqui Debono October 16, 2019 - 5:03 pm

5 stars
My husband just returned from Mumbai and now we are always trying to recreate some of the smells and tastes in the kitchen! And this is a great one for a week night dinner too!

Reply
Jere Cassidy October 16, 2019 - 9:50 pm

5 stars
I love the color of this dish and all those flavors you add sound appetizing. This dish looks so tasty.

Reply
Kacie October 17, 2019 - 3:58 am

5 stars
I’ve never tasted Indian lemon rice before but I would absolutely love to. I bet it tastes great served with a curry.

Reply
Nicole October 17, 2019 - 1:33 pm

I haven’t made rice in the pressure cooker yet (I know, what am I waiting for), so this might have to be the first. I’m loving the flavours and textures going on with this recipe, especially the use of lentils and peanuts. Well done! I cannot wait to give this a try.

Reply
Erika October 17, 2019 - 10:22 pm

5 stars
I love rice dishes. This looks so flavorful and I love that it’s made in the Instant Pot.

Reply
Elena October 18, 2019 - 12:49 am

This side dish looks so easy to make and tasty! I can’t wait to give it a try.

Reply
Mama Maggie's Kitchen October 18, 2019 - 2:36 am

5 stars
Yum! This Indian Lemon rice is making my tummy growl! Can you hear it from there?! Lol. I love the combination of that spicy and tangy. Can’t wait to try this!

Reply
Stine Mari October 18, 2019 - 5:14 am

5 stars
I love how flavorful this looks. I’m all about flavoring rice, and lemon rice sounds so delicious!

Reply
Analida Braeger October 18, 2019 - 9:18 am

5 stars
Thanks for the step by step photos to make this dish. This really helps the dish be more approachable to make. Thanks so much!

Reply
Heather Perine October 18, 2019 - 2:05 pm

5 stars
This looks so flavorful. Can I just use my regular bag of lentils for this recipe?

Reply
Tammy October 18, 2019 - 2:31 pm

5 stars
What a way to kick up rice! This sounds fabulous 😀 I would love to try this with all those beautiful spices and flavors. Yum!

Reply
Linda October 18, 2019 - 3:51 pm

5 stars
This lemon rice is a must-try recipe! Not only it’s so easy to make in an Instant Pot, but all the spices make this rice so flavorful.

Reply
Marisa F. Stewart October 19, 2019 - 5:22 am

5 stars
This recipe is certainly perking up my tastebuds. I love the spices that you have going on here. The rice would go perfectly with our baked chicken which is also spicy. I”m having the rice with the chicken this weekend.

Reply
Jenni LeBaron October 20, 2019 - 11:52 pm

5 stars
This Indian lemon rice recipe sounds so fragrant and looks delicious! I love that you can make this in the Instant Pot too!

Reply
Ramona October 21, 2019 - 5:09 am

5 stars
Absolutely love rice and this fragrant rice is definitely a winner in my family – love your version and will be making this super soon!

Reply
Sara October 21, 2019 - 10:46 am

5 stars
The flavors in this rice are so incredible! And the color of the whole dish makes it even more appetizing. This would be so perfect with a grilled protein like chicken or fish!

Reply
Lathiya October 30, 2019 - 3:03 pm

5 stars
Lemon rice is my go-to recipe to my kid’s lunch box or when time is limited to make lunch. You made it perfectly.

Reply

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