Dish nostalgic of southern India


Narangya Chor (Lemon Rice)

This is similar to the last recipe I wrote, yet another rice dish. I think I may be going through a ‘season of rice’ craving of sorts. These rice dishes are so nostalgic of South India. Lemon Rice is a quick one-pot meal made in plenty during the lime season, and eaten in combination with a Potato Curry or roast. Lemon Rice has a bright yellow colour from the therapeutic turmeric added to it and fills the kitchen with its citrusy aroma. The turmeric and lemon or lime infuse flavour into the rice, and Lemon Rice is definitely a comfort food for a South Indian.

I use the non-traditional lime or lemon zest in this recipe as it enhances the aroma and taste, a method I started using while living in Cyprus. The skin of the lemon/lime is packed with a lot of flavour and aroma. Zest the top skin and not the white part that’s beneath the skin of the lime. You can substitute lemon for lime in this recipe and it works well.

The basic tip, I would emphasise is rinse your basmati (or other long grain rice) under water till the water becomes clear and then soak in fresh water for 20 to 30 minutes, drain and set it aside before cooking. Rinsing the rice removes surface starch that can cause the rice to become gummy while cooking.


1 cup (250 ml) raw rice, cooked and cooled

4 tablespoons coconut oil, or ghee

15 cashew nuts toasted in ghee/butter/coconut oil

2 tablespoon peanuts toasted in ghee/butter/coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 large onion, chopped small

2 dried red chillies (according to spice level)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

2 sprigs curry leaves

1 teaspoon minced ginger

zest of one medium lemon or 2 small limes

4 green chillies, chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 teaspoons sugar

1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder

Juice of one medium lemon / or 2 small limes

5 sprigs coriander leaves, chopped fine


For this recipe, keep the flame of the stove at low or medium at all times as the spices and seeds burn at hot temperature. Heat the oil in a pan until hot. Add the mustard seeds, and wait for it to splutter. Then add the curry leaves, dried red chillies and cumin seeds.

Add the chopped onions and stir on medium fire till onions start to brown. Lower the flame and add the finely minced ginger, lemon zest, chopped green chillies, salt and the sugar. Sauté on low for 30 seconds. Add in the turmeric and mix well to combine. Make sure the turmeric doesn’t burn and the flame is set to low. Sauté for 20 seconds on low. Add the toasted cashew and peanuts to the mixture and stir till combined for 20 seconds.

Add in the cooled, cooked rice and mix well for 30 seconds. Switch off the flame. Add the lemon/lime juice and coriander leaves. Add lemon juice at the end after the flame is off. The heat from the pan will cook the juice just enough. Adjust for salt, spice and tanginess.

Serve warm with yoghurt raita, papad, and a lovely potato curry or roast.


Serene Tharian arranges South Indian Dinner Clubs through her cooking club, The Best Exotic Kerala Kitchen. She can be contacted on 99 222462 to book a south Indian meal with your friends. Instagram/Facebook: @thebestexotickeralakitchen