Lemon rice, known as Chitrannam or Chatre Annam in Telegu, is a famous South Indian rice preparation that is tangy, flavorful and easy to make. This zesty lemon-flavored rice is a regular at South Indian home and is served as an accompaniment with sambhar, dal and curries. Let’s learn how to make this delicious dish at home.

Ingredients Needed to Make South Indian Lemon Rice

To make lemon rice, you will need the following ingredients:


  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil or ghee

For Tempering

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 2 tsp chana dal
  • Few curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chilies, broken into pieces
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Hing (asafoetida) – a pinch

For Lemon Rice Masala

  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1″ cinnamon
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger (grated)
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp peanuts
  • 1/2 cup roasted chana dal powder
  • Salt to taste

Now let’s get cooking!

Step-by-Step Method to Cook South Indian Lemon Rice

Step 1 – Cook the Rice

  • Rinse 2 cups of rice till the water runs clear.
  • In a pan, add 4 cups water and let it boil. Add oil/ghee.
  • Once the water starts boiling, add the rinsed rice and let it cook on medium flame, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook until rice is almost done but still has a bite. Do not overcook.
  • Drain the rice and keep it aside.

Step 2 – Prepare the Tempering

  • In a small tadka pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil.
  • Once hot, add mustard seeds and allow them to crackle.
  • Next, add urad dal and chana dal. Fry till the dals turn golden brown.
  • Add dried red chilies, curry leaves and hing. Saute for few seconds.
  • Add this tempering to the cooked rice and mix gently using a fork. Keep aside.

Step 3 – Prepare Lemon Rice Masala

  • In the same pan, heat 2 tbsp oil.
  • Add mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  • Next goes cinnamon stick, green chilies and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add peanuts and curry leaves. Fry till peanuts turn golden brown.
  • Pour the lemon juice and mix well.
  • Add salt and chana dal powder. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour this prepared masala to the rice and gently mix using a fork. Make sure lemon rice masala coats all the rice grains evenly.

Step 4 – Garnish and Serve

Garnish South Indian lemon rice with more peanuts, roasted chana dal, curry leaves and freshly chopped coriander leaves. Serve this tangy lemon rice along with lentil curry, dal fry, vegetable korma and papad.

Tips for Making the Best South Indian Lemon Rice

Here are some handy tips and suggestions to make flavorful lemon rice at home:

Use Good Quality Rice

The choice of rice plays an important role. Do not use very sticky and mushy rice as it will result in a mushy lemon rice. Best options are sona masuri, ponni rice or basmati rice.

Get the Right Tartness

Lemon rice needs to have a nice tart flavor. Adjust the lemon juice and salt based on your preference. The combination of peanuts, roasted chana dal powder, curry leaves, ginger and green chilies enhance the overall taste.

Flavor with Tempering

Tempering with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves adds extra taste and flavor in South Indian lemon rice. It enhances the aroma as well.

Use Fresh Ingredients

Make sure you use juicy, freshly squeezed lemon juice. Grated ginger, chopped green chilies and fresh curry leaves add the zing. Go easy on red chili powder as lemon juice itself has some tang.

Roasted Chana Dal Powder

This special ingredient gives nice flavor, texture and an extra bite to the lemon rice. You can skip it if not available but the taste will be different.

Adjust Spiciness

Green chilies can make lemon rice spicy hot for some. Adjust or lessen the number of green chilies according to your taste and preference.

Variations of South Indian Lemon Rice

There are some popular variations for this tangy lemon flavored rice recipe:

Coconut Lemon Rice

Here some freshly grated coconut is also added along with lemon juice and other tempering ingredients. Coconut gives a very nice taste twist to this recipe.

Lemon Coriander Rice

Along with lemon juice, fresh coriander leaves are also mixed with the tempering to make an extra flavorful lemon rice variation. The fresh coriander enhances the citrusy taste.

Lemon Rice with Peas

Some boiled fresh green peas or matar is added to the cooked lemon rice, along with other ingredients. This adds nice texture and makes it more wholesome.

Serving Suggestions for Lemon Rice

This tangy lemon rice can be served with lentil curry, spicy dal fry, veg korma, potato curry, papad, appalam and fryums. You can also pack it for lunch box along with some crispy vadas or bhaji.

Lemon Rice and Sambhar

Lemon rice combined with hot sambhar tastes amazing. The tangy lemon flavor blends so well with the spicy and tart sambhar.

Lemon Rice with Rasam

Mix the rice and spicy pepper rasam. This combo enhances all flavors and you get to enjoy two dishes together.

Lemon Rice with Kootu

Kootu is a lentil stew that has vegetables like pumpkins, plantains, carrots etc. Kootu rice is a popular meal in South India.

Health Benefits of Lemon Rice

Lemon rice made with natural ingredients and minimal oil has several health benefits:

Provides Vitamin C

Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C that boosts immunity and prevents infections. It also has antioxidant properties.

Aids Digestion

Lemons contain citric acid that encourages the liver to secrete bile and other digestive juices. This improves digestion.

Good for Weight Loss

As lemon rice is made with very little oil, it is low in calories. Lemons are also detoxifying, so having this rice aids weight loss.

Controls Blood Pressure

Lemons have potassium that helps manage blood pressure by counteracting effects of sodium. Lemon rice is good for controlling hypertension.

Boosts Energy Level

As lemons are full of vitamin B, phosphorous and proteins, lemon rice provides a steady energy boost and stamina for the body.

So enjoy lemon rice for its fabulous zesty taste and nutritional advantages!

Frequently Asked Questions about Lemon Rice

Here are some common queries regarding South Indian lemon rice:

Is lemon rice good for health?

Yes, lemon rice is very good for health as lemons are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and compounds that boost immunity, improve digestion and enhance energy levels. Lemons also aid in liver detox and weight loss.

Can we use regular rice for lemon rice?

You can use regular rice but the taste and texture is best when you use lightweight rice variants like sona masuri, ponni rice or basmati rice. The tangy lemon flavor coats the grains well without making it too sticky or mushy.

Is lemon rice served hot or cold?

You can enjoy lemon rice both hot and cold. When hot, it is generally served with lentil curry or spicy dal. The cooled or room temperature rice tastes delicious too, as the lemon tang perforates well through the grains.

Can I use dried roasted chana dal instead of powder?

It is best to use roasted chana dal powder as it nicely coats each rice grain and gives a wonderful crunch. But in case you don’t have it, you can alternatively add some dried roasted chana dal. Add less salt in this case.


South Indian lemon rice is a mouthwatering rice preparation that has tangy and citrusy flavors. This easy rice dish can be made regularly at home using basic ingredients.

The tartness of fresh lemon juice combines so well with roasted chana dal powder, curry leaves, ginger and green chilies to give an outstanding taste. This aromatic lemon rice can be made in different ways like adding coconut, coriander or peas.

Lemon rice is served as an accompaniment with sambhar, rasam, vegetable curries, lentils and more. It also makes for a light, wholesome lunch. This vitamin C rich rice aids digestion, helps in detoxification and weight loss and gives an energy boost too.

Did you enjoy this South Indian lemon rice recipe? Follow us on Instagram @ketotacosalad for more delicious keto recipes and mouthwatering food photos!

Myra Henry created the Keto Taco Salad blog to share my favorite delicious low-carb recipes without sacrificing flavor. when i started the keto diet 2 years ago, I discovered a love for making healthy Mexican dishes like keto taco salads. My blog features easy keto taco salad recipes and tips for keto success.

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