Put simply, lemon rice is perfect rice.
Lemon rice recipes can be found in almost every good Indian cookbook. In India lemon rice is usually reserved for special occasions such a weddings and birthdays. This recipe makes a light, fluffy rice that has a tangy lemon flavour that is perfectly matched with a hint of saffron and turmeric which gives the rice its yellow glow.
There was a time when I only wanted to serve plain boiled basmati rice with curry. I didn’t want the rice to overpower the flavours of my curries.
Nowadays, and after cooking and serving hundreds of different Indian curries, I know that they can take it! Pilau rice and lemon rice are now firm favourites around my house.
400g basmati rice (the best quality rice you can find)
1 big pinch saffron (Iranian saffron if you can find it)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons milk
Juice of one lemon
1 2 inch stick of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon white washed urad dhal
10 fresh curry leaves
Finely grated zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm the milk so that it is hand hot and put your saffron in it. Stir to combine and allow to sit for about ten minutes. Set aside.
Place the rice in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid and cover with water.
Swirl the rice around with your hand in the water until the water becomes milky white.
Drain and repeat at least ten times until the water runs clear.
Cover with water again and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain.
Now cover the rice with water. You want enough water to cover the rice by about an 3/4 inch.
Add the saffron infused milk, turmeric, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and cover.
Place the rice over high heat, covered and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and keep covered for about 40 minutes.
Follow the next step carefully and cook your lemon rice to perfection!
Bamati rice is very tasty but it is also very delicate. With a fork, carefully stir the rice so that it doesn’t stick together and becomes quite fluffy. If you stir too fast or too hard, the grains will split and you will be left with a bowl of rice mush.
At this stage you can add the lemon juice, mix and cover again.
Pour the oil in a small frying pan. When it is hot, throw in the mustard seeds and urad dhal.
When they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and fry for about two minutes.
Be careful not to burn the curry leaves.
Pour the mixture over the rice and stir carefully to blend.
I think lemon rice is great and I hope you feel the same.