Lemon Rice (Chitrana)

Rice is such an important staple in Indian cuisine that there seem to be endless recipes to change things up. Lemon Rice is a classic South Indian dish that provides a real punch of flavor without requiring too many ingredients. 

Lemon Rice

“Lemon Rice” is also called “Chitrana” in Kannada or “Nimmakaya polihora” in Telugu. This one is serious comfort food in many South Indian homes. I’ve most commonly had it when visiting temples and restaurants.

Lemon Rice is a great dish for using up leftover rice if you have it. And it transports well so it makes good “road food.” The peanuts add a little heartiness and protein to the rice. If you have a peanut allergy, or just prefer another flavor, the peanuts can be substituted with cashews, almonds or even sunflower seeds.

Lemon Rice

Since curry leaves are sometimes hard to find, you can substitute cilantro for them. It will give a different flavor, but still taste delicious!

I usually eat Lemon Rice by itself, but it goes well with raita, yogurt, chutney or a salad.

Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 8
Calories: 226kcal


  • 2 cups rice cooked basmati preferred
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp peanuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  • Heat oil. It is hot enough when adding a couple of mustard seeds causes them to pop.
  • In order, with a couple of seconds in between, add mustard seeds, hing (asafoetida), curry leaves, green chili, urad dal, turmeric. Cook until urad dal turns golden (not dark brown), about 20-30 seconds.
  • Add peanuts and cook until they turn golden, about 1 minute.
  • Add water and rice. Stir and cook, for about 2 minutes. A little longer if the rice is cold.
  • Finish with lemon juice and salt. Stir to incorporate.


Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 57IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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