Chitrana (Lemon Rice)

Chitrana (Lemon Rice)

If you love citrus flavours and peanuts, this recipe is for you. A staple rice side-dish in Karnataka, Lemon Rice is nutty and fresh. Best served with vegetable palya, one of our chutneys (we recommend mint!) and some fried fish. 

Serves 4 as a main, or 6 with side dishes.   


  • 1½ cups (280g) rice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3-5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp toor dal (split pigeon lentil)
  • 1 tsp urad dal (split black gram lentil)
  • 1/4  cup (50g) whole peanuts
  • 2 medium-sized red onions, sliced
  • 3 small green chillies, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • A handful of coconut flakes (you can use dried coconut flakes, or fresh grated coconut)
  • 2 large lemons
  • Coriander leaves, for garnish

This quick and easy recipe is a great way to revive leftover rice – just skip to the method. You can use any split dal although we have suggested two of our favourites to use.


Wash the rice in 4 to 5 changes of water and drain. Boil a litre of water in a large pot and add the rice to the boiling water. Add salt, cover the pot and cook on low simmer for about 20 minutes, giving it a gentle stir every 5 minutes.

In 20 minutes the rice should be cooked through. Turn off the heat and drain any excess water. Set aside.


In a small ‘tadka’ (a small pan capable of withstanding high heat and ideally not non-stick), heat the oil. Test if it is hot enough by throwing a few mustard seeds into the oil – when they crackle and splutter, it is hot enough.

Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and the lentils and stir. In a few seconds, add the peanuts, onion, and chillies. Cook on low heat for a few minutes to caramelize the onion.

Now add the turmeric, coconut and lemon juice. Cool for a few minutes, and then add it to the pot of cooked rice. Mix well, add salt to taste, and let it rest a bit before serving.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with raita or sambar and chutney.