Tamil-style lemon rice

Tamil-style lemon rice

By
From
I Love India
Serves
4
Photographer
Martin Poole

This is such a delicious and versatile rice from the south of India that, even though I have written the recipe before, I wanted to include it in this book. The Tamils would make this rice and take it on long journeys, as it keeps well in a container and is so satisfying. This updated version is perhaps simpler but very tasty and works with coconut curries, tomato-based curries, dal or grilled chicken or fish. The lentils and seeds give it texture and flavour but do not overpower the flavours of the rice. The tang is really delicious and lifts this rice dish from a throwaway accompaniment to a deserving star. If you wanted to add a few more elements, try fresh grated coconut or lightly roasted and chopped peanuts.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
220g basmati rice, washed well in several changes of water and soaked as far in advance as possible
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
11/2 tablespoons urad dal, (split and skinned black lentils)
11/2 tablespoons chana dal
1 tablespoon split chana dal
1 dried red chilli, halved
12 fresh curry leaves
10g finely chopped root ginger, (peeled weight)
1/3 teaspoons ground turmeric
31/2-4 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
handful chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil over a high heat. Add the drained rice and return it to the boil. Cook for 6–7 minutes, then check a grain; it should be done but not mushy.
  2. Drain the rice, then return it to the pan over a low heat. Partially cover and dry off the excess moisture for a minute or so. Cover and leave undisturbed for 5–10 minutes or until you are ready to cook. (You can make this up to this stage earlier in the day, or even use yesterday’s boiled rice leftovers.)
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying or sauté pan. Add the seeds, lentils and chilli, reduce the heat and cook until the popping of the seeds subsides and the lentils are golden. Add the curry leaves and follow 5 seconds later with the ginger, salt and turmeric. Fry for 40 seconds or so.
  4. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute before adding the rice and coriander leaves. Stir the rice with a fork to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.
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