Lemon Rice + How to Cook Perfect Basmati Rice

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Lemon Rice from Southern India

Lemon Rice from Southern India

Lemon Rice: Prep 5 mins   Cook 9 mins   Eat 14 mins
Steamed Rice: Soak Rice 20 mins  Cook 15 mins  Rest 5 mins  Eat 40 mins
Rice made in Oven: Soak Rice 20 mins  Cook 30 mins  Rest 10 mins  Eat 60 mins

I could make a meal of this delicious Lemon Rice. It is easy, made in a Flash, different and exotic. We made the Lemon Rice in our Indian Cooking Class along with four other dishes. Once we reviewed the recipes and talked about a few new ingredients to add to your pantry…cumin seeds, turmeric, cardamom and good Indian chiles and chile powder, everyone found that cooking Indian was easier than they expected.

Lemon Rice is addictively good!

Lemon Rice is addictively good!

I learned that the best time to make Lemon Rice is when you have leftover rice, so there is a lesson here to always make extra rice so you can make this dish the next day.

Perfect Basmati Rice - the base for our Indian meal.

Perfect Basmati Rice – the base for our Indian meal.

How do you make the perfect Basmati Rice? Our guest chef, Zenith Gebhardt explained the importance of rinsing the rice until clear and soaking it for 20 minutes…this is the secret to lengthening the rice kernel. We made the basmati rice with both steamed and oven methods. It was great to try both at the same time and compare the difference. While it takes longer, I like the oven method because it is more hands-off, it won’t burn, the rice kernels stay more separate and you can get the rice into the oven and out of the way, while you make your main course. The secret to the oven method actually involves boiling water like you would for pasta and boiling the water with the rice for exactly 2 1/2 minutes, then drain and transfer the rice to a baking dish and place in the oven for 25 minutes. The details are below and the actual process is much simpler than it sounds. The steaming method is similar to making long grain rice. The advantage of the steaming method is that it takes less time – 15 minutes and requires only one pot. Either way, the rinsing and soaking step is extremely important and adding a small amount of canola oil to prevent the rice from sticking.

Get spices and ingredients ready ahead to pop in the skillet

Get spices and ingredients ready ahead to pop in the skillet

Make sure to have all your ingredients and spices measured and prepped before you begin to cook the Lemon Rice. Place them in a bowl or plate so that you can add to the skillet when needed. It is imperative that you are ready, since the cooking goes super fast.

Lemon Rice takes only 9 minutes to make once the rice is made.

Lemon Rice takes only 9 minutes to make once the rice is made.

Once you add the rice, stir it until it turns yellow.  The last step is to add the lemon juice and warm through.

Lemon Rice ready to be removed from the heat.

Lemon Rice ready to be removed from the heat.

Do not overcook or the rice will become mushy.  Remove from the heat and plate Lemon Rice in a serving bowl as soon as you have completed the cooking.   Cover to keep it warm.

Tracie and Mike present their Lemon Rice.

Tracie and Mike present their Lemon Rice.

The first time I made this Lemon Rice from Southern India, I was in love with all the flavors.  So simple to make, yet so rewarding.  You can vary the amount of lemon juice in it depending on your taste, but I like a nice hint of lemon without it being overpowering.  Serve it with a salad or some grilled veggies and you will have a complete healthy meal.  For a spectacular meal, serve it with the Balti Stir-fried Vegetables with Cashews.

Print Basmati Rice Recipe

Print Lemon Rice Recipe

Perfect Basmati Rice

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 Tablespoon canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 325° for Oven method and begin to boil 8 cups of water in a deep pot.  Rinse rice in several changes of cold water until water runs clear and put it in a heavy saucepan.  Add 3 cups cold water.  Soak the rice for 20 minutes.

Steamed Method

1. Place the saucepan with the rice and water over high heat, add the oil and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Decrease the heat to simmer and cover the pot for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let the rice rest, covered and undisturbed for 5 minutes before removing the cover.  Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.

Oven Method:

1. Drain rice after soaking. Bring a large quantity of water, about 8 cups to a boil in a deep pot, as stated in the first step.  Add the drained rice and bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for exactly 2 1/2 minutes.  Drain the rice and put it in an ovenproof casserole with a lid.  Add the oil, mix carefully, cover and bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes at 325°.  Remove from the oven and let the rice rest, covered and undisturbed for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.

Servings: 4    293 calories per serving

Lemon Rice

7 cups cooked Plain Basmati Rice, spread out on baking sheet to cool
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon yellow split peas or dal (Indian lentils)
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
3 whole dried chiles, remove stems and crush or 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red chili
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin crosswise
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cilantro sprigs for garnish
1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving

1. When rice is cool, combine oil, mustard seeds, yellow split peas and cashews in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Cook, stirring 1-2 minutes or until mustard seeds start to pop. (Have cover ready to prevent splattering.)   Immediately add the chiles, cumin seeds, turmeric and cook for 1 more minute or until cashews have turned golden brown.

2. Then add the onion, scallions and salt and cook, stirring until the onion is softened, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the cooled rice and stir gently until the rice is uniformly yellow.  Then drizzle the water all around the rim of the pan and stir again gently.  Add the lemon juice and cook uncovered until the rice is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Taste for salt and serve immediately.

Servings: 4    516 calories per serving (includes rice)

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