Introducing Indian Lemon Rice! Infused with Indian spices and tangy, zesty lemon, this South Indian classic is the perfect side dish to pair with all of your Indian meals! The Lemon Rice is baked, creating a deliciously crispy crust that will have you coming back for seconds! 

How to make Indian Lemon rice. Infused with Indian spices, this fragrant rice dish is the perfect side to your Indian meals. #lemonrice #indianrice #basmatirice I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Say hi to my new favorite rice dish- Indian lemon Rice! This recipe comes from my artist friend Neicy Frey, who grew up in Southern India in a town called Vellore between Bangalore and Madras.  Here is another delicious recipe she shared with me now over five years ago!

We paired this Lemon Rice with the Kerala-Style Fish from a few days again and some grilled corn on the cob with garam masala and it was such a  delicious and simple Indian Feast.

How to make lemon rice- cooked basmati rice

It starts with 6 cups of cooked basmati rice, which I cook using this pasta method.

Lightly crush coriander seeds and cardamom seeds.

Then toast in a skillet with ghee, mustard seeds, cloves, chilies, scallions and fragrant curry leaves. Try to find fresh curry leaves for the best flavor, but if in a pinch these dried ones will work.

make the temerping oil with the seeds and curry leaves.

Once the rice is cooked- mix lemon juice with a little turmeric in a bowl.

mix turmeric with lemon juice

Add the cooked rice and gently stir.

Then mix in the flavorful tempering oil.

mix up the lemon rice

Then place the seasoned rice in a baking pan or cast iron skillet with a little ghee on the bottom, pressing down just a bit, and place in a 375 F oven to bake for 20-25 mins.

When it’s done, the bottom will be deliciously crispy.

How to make Indian Lemon rice. Infused with Indian spices, this fragrant rice dish is the perfect side to your Indian meals. #lemonrice #indianrice #basmatirice

So excited for you to try this Indian Lemon Rice- let us know what you think in the comments below!

What to serve with Indian Lemon Rice: 

Happy Weekend,



clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
How to make Indian Lemon rice. Infused with Indian spices, this fragrant rice dish is the perfect side to your Indian meals. #lemonrice #indianrice #basmatirice

Indian Lemon Rice

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.7 from 7 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: side dish,
  • Method: stove top, baked
  • Cuisine: indian
  • Diet: Hindu


How to make Indian Lemon rice. Infused with Indian spices, this fragrant rice dish is the perfect side to your Indian meals.


Units Scale


Cook your rice (or use leftover rice!)
Pre-heat oven to 375F

Make Tempering Oil:

  • Lightly smash the coriander seeds and cardamom pods  with a mortar & pestle to slightly open the pods
  • Finely slice scallions and chili. Saute on medium/high heat in the ghee or low-flavor cooking oil  until the onions are golden and almost transparent.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add mustard seeds, cardamom pods and whole cloves and stir as they warm up. As soon as they start to become fragrant, add the curry leaves to the pan. Gently stir until the curry leaves are wilted, then remove the pan from heat. (It’s easy to overcook the seeds and leaves so be careful to keep your heat low.)
  • Stir in in 1/4 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt 

Mix up the Rice:

  • Squeeze the juice from your lemon into a large mixing bowl, add turmeric, 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t sugar and stir until dissolved in the lemon juice
  • Add the cooked rice to the bowl and stir until the turmeric/ lemon juice is evenly incorporated through the rice. It’s important to stir gently so as to keep the rice fluffy and not smash or break it.
  • Once the rice is mixed, taste to make sure there is a good balance of salt and lemon. If your lemons are really tart you may need to add more salt.
  • Add the tempering oil to the rice in the mixing bowl and toss just until evenly combined. Over-mixing will damage the rice texture.

Bake: Spread about 1 teaspoon ghee evenly across the bottom of the baking pan or skillet. Pour the 2 cups of the rice into the pan, gently pressing down into the ghee at the bottom. Add the remaining rice. This creates a delicious and slightly crunchy crust.

  • Bake for around 25 minutes on the bottom oven rack (to get the yummy ghee crust)

Serve: You can serve this straight from the pan, and try to keep the rice in big clumps, using a spatula to get that tasty crust.



Delicious with Kerala Fish, plain yogurt, raita, zhoug, dried fruit garnish, sliced cucumbers, green chickpea salad, Indian curry or bbq-ed vegetables!


  • Serving Size: ¾ cup
  • Calories: 224
  • Sugar: 0.9 g
  • Sodium: 147.8 mg
  • Fat: 3.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42.6 g
  • Fiber: 0.8 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 7.6 mg

Share this with the world!

to get recipes via email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


    1. Hi Irma, It is a little confusing because they are both named the same though they are two different things. Curry leaves are from the curry plant and curry powder is a blend combined of different dried spices. Curry leaves are hard to substitute you can just leave it out. Though if you can find some they have a unique flavor that is really nice!

      1. I also found a curry leaf powder. What do you think about using that?
        I did find fresh curry leaves on Amazon. Just hope they stay fresh by the time they get to me.

        1. I think that should work? I would taste it first and start with adding like 1/2 teaspoon to start with.

    1. Hi Linda! You could… but I’m not sure you would get the same gorgeous color, and the flavor would shift a bit? May not be a problem though. Let me know if you try it!

  1. I used the overall idea to perk up some rice that was already made, for a meal that was about to go on the table. It took about 5 min and was wonderful! I’ll try it again w/ toasting the spices etc when I have planned better. 😀

  2. I live alone and generally cook for one. I’m also recovering from cancer, a bit immunocompromised and not supposed to eat leftover rice. Can I halve or quarter this recipe? Thank you.

    1. Of course, Dianne, feel free to cut in half. AND, all the best to you on your health journey. ❤️

  3. The flavors and aroma of this dish are heavenly! I didn’t have the curry leaves but I did have some Methi/fenugreek leaves dried. I used about a tablespoon. I look forward to trying this with the curry just to see the difference, but it was great with the Methi. I am not sold on making rice like one cooks pasta – it created more dishes to wash and I really didn’t think there was a flavor or texture improvement. To each her own. I did like baking the finished dish in a cast iron deep skillet to get the crusty bottom!! This is a really flavorful recipe and I will definitely make it again!!

    1. Thanks Mert! And appreciate the feedback. And I’m guessing you are a really good rice maker. 🙂

  4. I would like to prepare this dish the day before and then bake it in the oven the next night. Have you ever done it that way? Doing the work in the kitchen ahead of time and then just popping it the oven the night I want to serve it would be great if you are having guests,

    Any tips for doing it this way would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. I havent tried this, but like the idea of it and don’t see why it wouldn’t work? Will you let me know how it goes?

  5. This recipe is delicious! I have made it with the Kerala-Style Fish & Raita recipe and was delighted with the flavors. I have made this rice several times and each time, I end up with a few questions. Mind you, I do not usually cook or eat Indian foods, so I am a bit ignorant;)
    -When are the mustard seeds added?
    -When are the cloves added? Is okay to use ground cloves?
    -Should the seeds form the cardamom pods be emptied and then the pod thrown away before baking the rice?
    -Is it okay to eat the curry leaves?

    1. Add all the spice seeds to the tempering oil. If using ground cloves, perhaps add with the salt and sugar. I leave the cardamom pod in the rice, and it is ok to eat the curry leaves. 🙂

  6. Lemon rice when cooked with Sona masoori tastes even better. We south Indians don’t add sugar but we add lots of green chillies slit into halves which gives more flavor. Asafoetida (hung) is a must to add to the items.

  7. This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try. If I don’t have curry leaves can I replace with something else or just make it without?

    1. I guess you could make without but curry leaves really “make” this dish. Do you have fenugreek leaves?

  8. Hi. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I noticed that the recipe says 6 cloves but doesn’t say of what. Is it garlic? If it is then I do t see where garlic is added. Maybe just a typo. Please fill me in so I can get to work on this!😁


Our Latest Recipes