Chitranna: A Tangy And Wholesome Bowl Of Rice
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As demonstrated by Lemon Rice (or Chitranna, as it’s called in South India), Indian cuisine is full of simple dishes that can be quickly prepared with staple food items, such as rice and lemon. From quick breakfast, light lunch or brunch to a worthy starter during festival feasts, Lemon Rice finds its takers in all scenes and scenarios. It is also served during weddings in southern India and is an integral part of South Indian thalis from the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. 

Other than rice and lemon, the recipe requires typically available household food items such as mustard seeds, turmeric powder, vegetable oil, salt, curry leaves, chillies, raw peanuts etc. 

Often the rice in Lemon Rice can be the leftover from last night, while many a time, people prefer steaming basmati rice afresh. The lemon constitutes Vitamin C, which enhances immunity and reduces the risk of heart diseases while also prolonging the signs of body ageing. One serving of lemon rice contains about 220 calories, and hence is a healthy breakfast option. 

Lemon Rice is prepared by pouring over steamed rice — either leftover or freshly prepared — a quick tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies, peanuts, salt, turmeric, and lemon juice.

Although not a rule of thumb, onion and garlic are often avoided in the preparation of Lemon Rice, since it is also offered to deities and served as Prasadam to the devotees in many temples of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Lemon Rice can be served standalone, but people often serve it with yoghurt, papad, pickle, or salads of many kinds. 


    2 cup boiled rice

    2 lemons

    A few curry leaves

    Salt, to taste

    2 red chillies

    ½ tsp black pepper

    ½ tsp mustard seeds

    Coriander leaves

    Raw peanuts (optional)

    Cashews (optional)


    Either keep 2 boiled cups of leftover rice aside or prepare freshly steamed rice off a pressure cooker or cooking vessel.

    Heat 1.5 tablespoons of mustard oil or ghee in a cooking pan and sauté mustard seeds in it.

    Add fresh curry leaves followed by red chillies, turmeric and salt. Mix all the ingredients well.

    If preferred , you can add raw peanuts and cashews at this stage. 

    Add two cups of boiled rice followed by the lemon juice. Mix it well while cooking it for 3-4 minutes on a simmering flame.

    Transfer it to a serving bowl or dish and serve with the garnish of fresh coriander leaves.