Lemon Rice (Chitranna)

5 from 3 votes

Lemon Rice (Chitranna) is a popular South Indian rice preparation where cooked rice is flavored with lime juice and a few other simple ingredients. Try my easy recipe here.

You may like some more rice recipes: Tahri, Ellu Sadam, Kerala Style Ghee Rice, Black Pepper Rice, and Raw Mango Rice.

South Indian lemon rice served in a bowl.
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When I want to make a quick lunch, I look for easy stir-fried rice recipes. I usually always have cooked rice in my refrigerator, so just a few minutes of prep and cooking, and my lunch is ready.

After moving to Bangalore, I was exposed to the enormous world of South Indian variety rice dishes. This lemon rice is one of them.

It’s made using Indian limes rather than lemons, which we interchangeably call limes and lemons in India. So, technically, it’s lime rice. But what’s in the name? Try this delicious dish, and its incredible taste will blow you away.

About Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice (Chitranna, Elumichai Sadam) is a traditional South Indian rice preparation in which cooked rice is flavored with lime juice and tempered with peanuts, curry leaves, and other simple ingredients.

It is easy to make, needs basic pantry ingredients, and comes together in under 15 minutes.

Lemon rice is a great recipe to utilize the leftover rice.

Serve it with pickle and papad for a comforting meal, or pack it for office or school lunch boxes. You can also serve it as a side dish with festive South Indian meals.

Ingredients

You will get all the ingredients to make this recipe in any Indian grocery store.

Cooked Rice – Sona Masuri is the preferred choice for the South Indian lemon rice recipe. However, you can also use any white short-grain, nonsticky rice or basmati rice.

Cook the rice beforehand and cool it down completely before stir-frying it with the other ingredients. Day-old rice is perfect for this recipe.

You can replace plain white rice with cooked brown rice, quinoa, or couscous.

Check out this post to learn how to cook rice perfectly.

Oil – Traditionally, chitranna is made using sesame oil. You can also use ghee or any cooking oil as a substitute.

Lime Juice is the star ingredient of this dish.

In India, the words limes and lemons are used interchangeably. Although this dish is actually made using lime juice, its name is lemon rice. Lime juice adds a nice, subtle, tangy taste with a refreshing flavor.

You can replace lime juice with lemon juice.

Peanuts and Cashews add a nice crunch.

Curry Leaves – Adds a subtle flavor and aroma. Make sure to use fresh green curry leaves.

Green Chillies – You can adjust the quantity to suit your taste.

Others – You will also need brown mustard seeds, split and skinned black lentils (white urad dal), Bengal gram lentils (chana dal), dry red chilies, asafetida (hing), salt, and turmeric powder.

Skip adding asafetida to make it gluten-free.

How To Make Chitranna

Heat 2 tablespoon sesame oil in a pan over medium heat.

Oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, add the following ingredients and saute until the dals are lightly browned, stirring continuously.

  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon white urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal
Mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal added to hot oil.

Add the following ingredients and saute for 10-12 seconds.

  • 2 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 3-4 dry red chiles (stalks removed)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida
Green chilies, red chilies, curry leaves and hing added to the pan.

Add ¼ cup raw peanuts and 6-8 cashew nuts and saute for 40-60 seconds until the nuts are slightly browned, stirring continuously.

Cashew nuts and peanuts added to the pan.

Now add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and saute for 10-12 seconds.

Turmeric powder added to the pan.

Add the following ingredients and mix well. 

  • 2 cups of cooked and cooled rice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Cooked rice, lemon juice and salt added to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low.

Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Check for salt and lemon juice and add more if required. Serve hot.

Ready lemon rice.

Pro Tips By Neha

Do not overcook the rice. They should be perfectly cooked but not mushy.

The rice must be cooled well before using in the recipe.

Adjust the lime juice to taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I quickly cool down the cooked rice?

Spread the hot cooked rice on a baking tray in a thin layer. Cover the tray with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes to cool the rice quickly.

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Lemon Rice (Chitranna) is a popular South Indian rice preparation where cooked rice is flavored with lime juice and a few other simple ingredients. Try my easy recipe here.
5 from 3 votes

Lemon Rice Recipe (Chitranna)

Lemon Rice (Chitranna) is a popular South Indian rice preparation where cooked rice is flavored with lime juice and a few more simple ingredients. Try my easy recipe here.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (or any other cooking oil)
  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon split and skinned black lentils (white urad dal)
  • 1 teaspoon Bengal gram lentils (chana dal)
  • 2 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 3-4 dry red chilies (stalks removed)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (skip for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • 6-8 cashew nuts
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled white rice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
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Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, urad dal, and chana dal, and saute until the dals are lightly browned, stirring continuously.
  • Add green chilies, dry red chiles, curry leaves, and asafetida, and saute for 10-12 seconds.
  • Add peanuts and cashew nuts and saute for 40-60 seconds until the nuts are slightly browned, stirring continuously.
  • Now add turmeric powder and saute for 10-12 seconds.
  • Add rice, lime juice, and salt, and mix well. 
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Check for salt and lime juice and add more if required. Serve hot.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Sona Masuri is the preferred rice choice for lemon rice. However, you can also use any white short-grain nonsticky rice or basmati rice.
Cook the rice beforehand and cool it down completely before stir-frying it with other ingredients. Day-old rice is perfect for making this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 504kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Sodium: 1358mg, Potassium: 439mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 841IU, Vitamin C: 206mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 2mg
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8 Comments

  1. Hi! I am going to try this recipe tomorrow!

    I have been wondering why Indian recipes, such as this one, sometimes use dal uncooked in small quantities? Is it for the texture or taste?

    Another question: why is coriander powder and whole coriander seeds used both? As far as I understand, the powder is made of the seeds. Do they taste different in different form?

    1. Hi Elina,
      The uncooked dal is added for texture. I personally like them a lot. Some people also soak them before using them in tempering. If you do not like crispy dal coming into your mouth, you can soak them in water for 15 minutes. In some recipes, coriander seeds and powder both are used for different tastes and textures, although coriander powder is made from seeds themselves.