Lemon rice

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It is one of the most popular rice dishes of South India. Zesty and  fragrant, it is a mix of rice, spices, curry leaves, peanuts, cashew nuts and of course, the star ingredient, lemon juice and a bit of lemon rind. It can be eaten as a main dish, just like that. Or with plain yogurt, which is a great accompaniment.

There was a flavour game going on in my mind in the kitchen this evening. Instead of just plain old yoghurt or the usual Indian pickles, papaddums to accompany it, I wanted to experiment. So I came up with another delicious recipe to go with the lemon rice, and boy, did the flavours of both dishes marry well! I decided to try out a new lentil dish recipe in my kitchen, namely Dhansak dal. Do refer to my next blog post for the recipe of Dhansak dal.

Coming back to the rice, I gave my own little spin on the veggies, by adding cauliflower florets and carrots. One could even add green peas. The big ta-da moment if adding the lemon juice and zest toward the end and a final garnish of fresh coriander, green onions and grated fresh coconut.

Servings – 4

Ingredients :

Basmati rice – 1 cup

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Chana dal (split Bengal gram) – 1 tbsp.

Urad dal (Black gram, skinned) – 1 tbsp.

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Peanuts and cashew nuts – 1/2 cup

6-8 curry leaves

Chopped carrots – 1/2 cup

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Small florets of cauliflower – 1 cup

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3-4 Dried red chillies

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Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp

Black mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp.

A pinch asafoetida

Turmeric – 3/4 tsp.

Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp.

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Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.

Grated lemon zest- 1/2 tsp.

Salt, to taste

Oil – 2 tbsp.

Chopped green onions – 1/4 cup

Chopped cilantro or coriander – 1/4 cup

Grated coconut, to garnish – 1 tbsp. I usually buy frozen grated coconut available in most Indian grocery stores.

Wash and soak the basmati rice for at least 30 mins.

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Soak the Chana dal and urad dal in a small bowl with water, for the same time, just to soften them.

Cook the basmati rice. I follow this method- Bring the rice along with about 3-4 cups of water to a boil. Also add the Chana dal and urad dal, so they cook along with the rice. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 9-10 minutes.

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With the help of a large sieve or colander, drain and discard the water. Set the rice aside. Let cool.

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Heat oil in a non stick skillet or wok. Add the peanuts and cashew nuts and toast till light brown. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds asafoetida. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the curry leaves and dried red chillies.

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Add the carrots and cauliflower florets.

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Cover and cook on low for 7-8 minutes till the veggies are tender, but still have a bite to them.

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Add the rice.

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Add the turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir till well combined. Add salt. Stir.

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Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, mix well.

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Garnish with chopped coriander, green onions and grated coconut.

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