Lemon Rice Recipe- Chitranna

Lemon rice popularly known as Chitranna is a South Indian rice recipe. This is a vegan, beginner-friendly, bachelor friendly, no onion no garlic recipe.

Lemon rice is a mildly spiced rice dish made using leftover rice that is tempered with flavourful herbs and nuts.

This is an easy, simple staple food that is frequently made in south Indian households typically for breakfast. This can also be served for light lunch or dinner too.

This amazingly delicious and refreshing dish uses only pantry staples. You just need 15-20 minutes and you are done with your chitranna / lemon rice.

Lemon rice is made using cooked rice and tempering of curry leaves, green chillies, nuts, and lemon juice give a delicate flavour to this dish.

This rice can be packed for road trips, for office lunch box or kids tiffin box too. This lemon rice is eaten with curd, raita, koshimbir / salad or any pickle of your choice. I personally like to eat it as it is, love those delicate subtle flavours.

At home when we want to make it for light dinner, we serve it with kokam kadhi (solkadi) or buttermilk along with some fried poppadoms on the side. This dish is a complete meal in itself.

In Maharashtra too we make a similar kind of rice dish but without lemons, known as phodnicha bhaat, its kind of Maharashtrian fried rice, which is served for breakfast and evening snacks. To make phodnicha bhaat, onions and sometimes garlic are also added, unlike lemon rice.

Again there is a traditional authentic rice preparation like masale bhat, tondli bhat (Ivy Gourd Rice), pulao and many more. If you have steamed rice ready, you can toss this lemon rice just under 15-20 minutes. This is a comfort food kind of recipe.

The refreshingly tangy lemony flavour of this rice with nutty crunch from the peanuts and aroma from herbs is very appetizing. Every household has its own unique version of preparing this rice. Some add garliccurry leaves, and ginger as well.

You can use any kind of rice to make this recipe, I normally use basmati rice for this recipe.

This recipe is perfect to make for beginners & bachelors. It hardly requires any ingredients the main one being plain leftover rice.

You can make this with freshly steamed rice as well but in that case, make sure that the rice is fully cooled down to room temperature. In case you have kept the rice in the fridge, then thaw it for about 20 minutes before preparing the dish.

I Love the simplicity of this dish. There are so many dishes that can be made using leftover rice such as rice pakoda, rice thalipeeth / rice pancake to name a few.

With absolutely minimum ingredients you will be amazed how this plain leftover rice is taken to a different level with its taste, color and flavour.

This rice is a perfect lunch Box option for adults as well as kids. It’s that versatile!

Rice: I have used pre-cooked basmati rice here. Make sure that your rice is not soggy or sticky. It will ruin the taste of this dish otherwise.

Lemon: I have used 2 tablespoons of lemon juice here, but adjust to your preference.

Spices: I used dry red chillies, asafoetida (hing),turmeric to give a hint of spice to this rice.

Herbs: I have used curry leaves, and green chillies to temper the rice.

Nuts: For every day, we make use of roasted peanuts, for a special occasions, we add lightly roasted cashews which give a nice flavour to this recipe.

Seasoning: I have used salt and a pinch of sugar to balance the taste. Sugar is optional here. Sugar is normally not added to this dish but it’s my personal preference.

Oil: I have used just 2 tablespoons of oil for this recipe.


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Let’s see how to make Lemon rice / Chitranna / Nimmakaya pulihora with basic ingredients in your home kitchen.

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 -2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoon roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon roasted cashew nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/4th teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (Haldi powder)
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 1-2 Green Chillies finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (purely optional)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and let them crackle, add urad dal (split black gram), chana dal and saute for a minute.
  • Now add chopped green chillies, curry leaves, and dry red chilles. Saute for another 15 seconds.
  • Add hing (asafoetida), raw peanuts and cashew nuts and roast for a minute or two till peanuts are crispy.
  • Make sure to make this tadka / tempering on low flame as we do not want our spices and herbs to burn.

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  • Add turmeric powder and cooked rice along with salt and sugar (optional) and toss everything with light hands. Make sure not to mix rice vigorously as the rice grain might break easily.
  • Check for seasoning. Cover the rice with the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes on low to medium flame. Stir occasionally.
  • Once the rice has steamed perfectly & absorbed the flavours of curry leaves, nuts and spices, it’s time to add lemon juice.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and mix well. (adjust the quantity of lemon juice as per your liking)
  • Cover and let the rice cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Lemon rice is ready.
  • Serve it with pickle, poppadums or solkadhi (kokam kadhi).


Avoid nuts if you are allergic to them.


It’s best to use leftover rice for making this recipe instead of making fresh rice. You can make this with freshly steamed rice as well but in that case, make sure that the rice is fully cooled down to room temperature. In case you have kept the rice in the fridge, then thaw it for about 20 minutes before preparing the dish.

Normally short-grain rice is preferred to make this recipe, but you can use any rice that is available at your home. I have used basmati rice here.

Adjust lemon juice as per your choice. I like my rice quite tangy, hence I ended up adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

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