I had this argument with my best friend V, who was insistent, it was rather stupid that I post this recipe. Now, arguing for both of us is second nature. And in spite of the fact that most of our phone calls have only grunts and swearing and eventual slamming down of the phones, we remain to this day the thickest of friends. I’m sorry to digress, but I had to tell you that, though I am aware of my seemingly innate habit to bicker, I am 101 percent sure she couldn’t be more wrong and I more right, in this squabble.
For one, I don’t think posting this recipe is a stupid idea. Two- V, with her pedigree from Tamil Nadu, must have had all forms of lemon rice every other day and might be able to whip it up in her sleep. But, majority of the world and my friends are not. And I think, if not all, at least a handful of them would be interested and curious to know the recipe. So V, when you see this, hit the humph button and move on. And to those who are interested here it goes.
Lemon rice is a quick fix dish. It is usually associated with long train rides or picnics in the south of India because it can be eaten cold, stays pretty fresh for long periods and doesn’t spoil easy. This recipe mainly calls for white rice and lemons. Every ingredient for seasoning barring mustard and curry leaves are optional. There are many variations in making this. Some add onions, others add grated ginger and some garnish with coconut. My secret ingredient to herald the symphony – lemon zest, when I have fresh lemons, or finely sliced pickled lemon rinds that I spoke about earlier here. I’d also like to mention that while making any form of South Indian recipes for fried rices, it makes a world of difference when you use sesame oil (the golden, cold-pressed kind. Not the dark brown from toasted seeds found in the Chinese market), instead of ordinary refined oil.
4 cups of cooked white rice.
2 tbsp of sesame oil / ghee (clarified butter)
a pinch of asafoetida
2 dried red chilies – crumbled into 1’’ pieces
1 tbsp of split black gram /urad dal (optional)
1 tbsp of split Bengal gram/chana dal (optional)
1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds(optional)
1/2 cup of unsalted peanuts
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
1 sprig of curry leaves
3 – 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tbsp of grated fresh coconut (optional)
salt to taste
and set aside.