Quick and Easy/ Recipes/ Rice Dishes/ Vegetarian

Chitranna (Lemon Rice)

Chitranna or lemon rice is a quick and easy rice dish that is very tasty and tangy and is normally prepared during festivals and pujas in the Southern part of India.  This dish can be made with leftover rice and my mom would pack this for me for lunch when I was in school and later in college.   This dish can be made using limes or lemons.  I used limes as I was out of lemons.  I like it with both (I can’t tell the difference, maybe my taste buds are not discerning enough, I guess).  Mom would add chopped vegetables like beans, carrots and green peas to this dish.  In Rajesh’s house,  peanuts were used in lieu of the vegetables.  This is one of those dishes that can also be eaten at room temperature and thus lends itself to be packed for school lunches, picnics etc.


  • Cooked Rice - 1 cup
  • Peanuts - 1/2 cup
  • Lime juice - 2 tblsp
  • Oil - 3 tblsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Black gram/udad daal - 1/2 tsp
  • Bengal gram/chana daal - 1/2 tsp
  • Hing/asafoetida - 1 pinch
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Dried red chillies - 2
  • Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
  • Green chillies - 5, split(more or less, depending on your taste)
  • GInger - 1 tsp, finely chopped (optional)
  • Cashewnuts - 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Cilantro - for garnish



Cook rice using your preferred method and spread on a plate to cool.  The grains should be separate and should not clump together.  I used leftover cold rice.


Add the lime juice to the cooled rice and mix well.


Heat oil in a large wok or pan.  Season with mustard seeds.  When the seeds splutter, put in the udad daal and chana daal.  Allow the daals to become light brown and then add the peanuts.


Roast the peanuts till light brown.  At this point, if you are adding cashewnuts, add them after roasting the peanuts.


Add hing followed by the dried red chillies, curry leaves, green chillies , ginger (if using) and the turmeric powder.  Saute the whole mixture for a minute or so.  Add salt to taste.


Now add the cooked rice and using a very gentle hand, mix well.


You can garnish this dish with finely chopped cilantro.


Serve hot or at room temperature with pickles, raitha, curd rice or papads.


  • Roll the lime/lemon on the kitchen countertop or any flat surface prior to extracting the juice.  I microwaved them for about 12-15 seconds which helped in the process as well.
  • I do not add the lime juice to the peanut mixture because I have found that sometimes the peanuts turn bitter when I do this. I hence add the lime juice to just the cooked and cooled rice.
  • Make sure to use cooled rice, even if the rice is a little warm, it can clump together when you add it to the peanut mixture.
  • My mom uses finely chopped ginger in the dish saying it enhances the taste.  I prefer to skip ginger in my version.
  • You can adjust the quantity of the lime juice depending on how tangy you want the rice to taste.

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