Lemon rice (Elumichai sadham)

Lemon rice or chitrannam or Yelumiccha Pazha Sadham is an important south Indian meal and plays a very important role during festival times like pongal, ugadi or any auspicious time and as a simple lunch meal or as a picnic or for a long journey. I still remember whenever we plan for picnic or journey by train or car, my mother prepares lemon rice, as it stays fresh for a longer time and can be eaten cold. It is best served with pickle or potato crisps. It is so simple and easy to make. There are varieties of rice like tamarind rice, tomato rice, coconut rice, curd rice, pea rice and many more; the most popular is lemon rice. My mother used to prepare for my lunch box also with some fried potato poriyal, which is my favourite food during lazy times, no need to spend much time in the kitchen.

Lemon rice can be prepared with leftover rice which is kept in the fridge. I never use boiled peanuts (groundnuts) or raw peanuts for my lemon rice, as I don’t like it in my lemon rice but my father says it is a must for him so always tug of war when my mother prepares lemon rice, the simple and easy way, I just pick all peanuts and transfer it to my dads serving plate. Lemon rice is yellow in colour and it flavours are fresh and appetizing.


  1. Oil – 2 tbsp or more
  2. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  3. Chana dal (Bengal gram) – 1 tsp
  4. Urad dal (black spilt gram) – 3/4 tsp
  5. Curry leaves – 15
  6. Dry chillies (broken) – 3
  7. Hing (asafoetida) – 1/4 tsp or more
  8. Onion (chopped) – 1/2 ( if medium) or 1 (if small)
  9. Green chillies (sliced) – 2
  10. Turmeric powder – 1/4 or more
  11. Cooked rice (ponni or basmati) – 3 cups
  12. Lime or lemon – 1/2 (big) or 3 tbsp juice
  13. Salt - as per taste
  14. Coriander leaves (chopped) – few


  1. Cook the rice in advance, keeps it aside. Separate the rice with a fork.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt, turmeric powder and lime juice, mix both and keep it aside.
  3. Chop onion and slice green chillies or slit it apart, keep it ready.
  4. Take a vessel, add oil, when hot add mustard seeds, dry chilli, chana dal, hing, urad dal, and curry leaves, sauté for 30sec.
  5. Add chopped onion and green chilli, sauté till soft and transparent.
  6. Add lime juice, mix well and switch it off.
  7. Add hot cooked rice, sprinkle coriander leaves and mix well.
  8. Can serve immediately or simmer for 5 to 8min by closing the lid.
  9. Or if the rice is cold, simmer the rice for 10 to 12min by closing the lid.
  10. When simmering rice, can see the colour, changes from light to bright colour lightly.
  11. I always get different colour for my lemon rice from light to bright colour as per turmeric powder is added (can view in the picture).
  12. Serve with stir fry potato (poriyal) or just potato crisps or pepper cauliflower masala.


  1. If there is any leftover rice in the fridge, add the rice to the fried onion mixture, mix well and simmer for 10 to 12min till it is fluffy fresh rice again.
  2. Can avoid onion and cook, it becomes simpler, fast and easy.
  3. Add lime juice or lemon as per your sourness, as some lemons will be very sour.
  4. Can use ready made lemon bottles.
  5. Salt is added in the rice, but I add a pinch of salt for the onion mixture.
  6. Can use basmati rice  or  ponni raw rice,  sona masoori rice  or ponni boiled rice which we get in India.