Indian Lemon Rice is a fragrant and delicious dish perfect to make from left over plain rice!
Indian Lemon Rice is one of my favorite dishes. It is packed with flavor and makes my mouth water whenever I’m waiting for it to come out of the oven. It’s also become a big comfort dish for me over the years.
Who does like lemons? Who doesn’t like rice? This dish does require quite a few Indian staple ingredients, but I would recommend it to anyone who can get their hands on what they need!
The biggest thing that this dish requires, which may be hard to finds, is a mixture of pods and seeds. I needed mustard seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, and coriander seeds. But the hardest ingredient of all to find was fresh curry leaves.
I actually wasn’t able to find some when I made this recipe, although you can usually find some trace of curry leaves at an Indian grocery store. Either that, or it’s time for me to start growing a curry plant.
Making a Fragrant Butter
The first step in this process is making a fragrant oil mix. For this, I used the cardamom pods, coriander seeds, scallions, cloves, and curry leaves. I start by putting a little butter in the pan (you can use ghee or oil if that preferred). I love the richness of butter.
The scallions were the first ingredient to be sautéed in the butter. This dish is what really taught me my love for scallions. They are so delicious, and they very quickly have become my favorite type of onion. I like to sauté the scallions until they are translucent with a golden edge.
Then I added the cardamom pods, mustard seeds, and cloved into the pot and let them cook until their flavor bloomed. I’m not sure how to describe this. There is some popping, but it really is more of a personal feel than a telltale sign.
After the flavor has bloomed, I add in the curry leaves (this is not pictured). I like to cook them until they are gently wilted. But not too much. If you don’t want to cook the curry leaves, you can always add them in raw, but the flavor won’t be as uniform. This method imparts their flavor into the oil and other ingredients
The last step is adding in a bit of sugar and salt before letting the oil rest.
Prepping the Rice
While the butter is resting, it’s time to prepare the rice. I made fresh rice but this is a great recipe to use leftover rice! In a large bowl, I mixed the lemon juice, turmeric, salt, and sugar and whisked until the solids were dissolved into the lemon juice. The acidity of the juice really helps this process.
Then it’s time to add in the rice. I tried to distribute the lemon mixture as evenly as possible through the rice while also being gently on the rice. Rice is susceptible to being overworked so it’s really important that the rice is treated gently. Otherwise, there could be some over mixing happening and I know I didn’t want that.
Combine and Bake
Then it’s time to add the fragrant butter into the mixture. I drizzled this on top as evenly as possible to get it spread throughout the rice. Then I stirred the rice once more to get butter mixture as evenly spread as possible. Again, I did my best not to overmix the rice.
Then it’s time to throw the mixture in the pan! I like to put butter down at the bas of the pan to get a nice crispy crust on the rice at the bottom. I like doing this in layers because I don’t want to squish all the rice, just the rice that is going to be directly against the butter.
Then all that’s left is to bake! I had to stop myself several times from trying to open the oven and take the rice out early. The fragrant smell of the lemon and spices filled up the entire kitchen. It was very difficult to resist.
While I have always enjoyed lemon rice, making it at home seemed like a new ball game. I was wrong. This recipe was super easy to make. There is a little more time in a prep and cooking than I expected but it is well worth the effort. This is a recipe I highly recommend!
Overmixing the rice
I know I mentioned overmixing the rice several times in this recipe but what does that actually mean? What negative effects can overmixing the rice have? Stirring the rice will activate the starch and cause it to soften and become mushier. Think of a risotto texture but without the creaminess of risotto.
Indian Lemon Rice
- 6 Cup White Rice cooked
- 1 Bunch Scallions
- 2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
- 6 Cardamom Pods
- 6 Cloves
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
- 10 Fresh Curry Leaves
- 1 Lemon zested and juiced
- ¾ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a mortar and pestle, lightly smash the coriander seeds and cardamom pods until they are slightly open.
- Finely slice the scallions and sauté over medium to high heat in the butter until the scallions turn golden and almost transparent.
- Reduce the heat and add mustard seeds, cardamom pods, and cloves.
- Add curry leaves to the pan and cook until the leaves are gently wilted.
- Stir in ¼ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the juice of the lemon, turmeric, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add in the cooked rice and stir until the spice mixture is evenly distributed throughout the rice. Taste to make sure the lemon and salt are at the right balance.
- Add the scallion mixture to the mixing bowl and toss until just combined.
- In a skillet, spread 1 teaspoon of butter evenly across the bottom. Place 2 cup of rice into the pan and gently press the rice down into the butter. Add the remaining rice.
- Bake for 25 minutes