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Lemon Rice (Chitranna)

  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Serves: 4-6 people
  • Spice Level: Medium

Authenticity Slice

To make the authentic fluffy lemon rice in which the grains stand distinctly apart, add the juice of the lemon right at the end. If added to the seasoning, the juice will make the rice bitter. Another important detail is to use just a pinch of haldi and to let the lemon juice enhance the brilliant yellow colour of the dish. Chitranna is best made well ahead of meal times as it allows the rice to absorb all the flavours well and taste great.

Trivia Tadka

Like sambar, all the Deccan states claim the Lemon Rice as their own. Indeed, each state has its own version with its own localised flavour and taste. While Andhraites use more chana dal and less peanuts, Kannadigas add an extra dash of fresh coconut in it. Chitranna is found in many variations within the boundaries of Karnataka itself, the most popular of them being the ‘Nimbehannu Chitranna’, which is the authentic version cooked using haldi and lemon juice. ‘Eerulli Chitranna’, on the other hand, uses fried onion as an important ingredient. ‘Mavinakayi Chitranna’, in which grated raw mango is used as a souring agent instead of lemon juice, is yet another popular version. The well-known song ‘Chitranna Chitranna’, from the Kannada film Budhivanta, pays handsome tribute to this legendary dish.


  • Rice (2 cups)
  • Water (4 cups)
  • Oil (2 tsp)
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) (½ tsp)
  • Mustard seeds (sarson) (½ tsp)
  • MTR Haldi/Turmeric Powder (½ tsp)
  • Dry red chillies (sabut lal mirch) (2)
  • Green chillies (hari mirch), slit vertically (1)
  • Curry leaves (kadipatta) (12 to 15)
  • Split chickpeas (chana dal) (1 tbsp)
  • Black gram (urad dal) (1 tbsp)
  • Fresh coconut (nariyal), grated (¼ cup)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (3 tbsp)


  • Wash the rice thoroughly and soak it in water for 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Place water for cooking on a high flame. When it comes to a boil, lower the flame to medium and add in the soaked rice. Allow the rice to cook till it turns tender. Drain out the starch using a strainer.
  • Cover the drained rice and allow it to absorb the remaining moisture and fluff up. After about 5 to 6 mins, remove the lid and keep aside to cool.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai on a medium flame. Add the rai and jeera and allow the seeds to splutter.
  • Next, add the chana and urad dal and sauté till they begin to change colour.
  • Add the green chillies, sabut lal mirch, kadipatta and the MTR Haldi/Turmeric Powder, and sauté for another minute.
  • Turn off the flame and pour this tempering over the cooked rice.
  • Add the salt and grated coconut to the rice and mix well.
  • Next, sprinkle the juice of the lemon over the rice and mix well again.
  • Cover and let the rice stand for 1 or 2 hours for the flavours to seep in completely.
  • Serve with coconut chutney and pappadams.

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