Chitranna or lemon rice is an easy and quick flavorful tangy, tasty rice dish. A detailed recipe with step by step photos is given.
Chitranna is the name given in Kannada. Cooked rice is mixed with turmeric, lemon juice, nuts and seasoned with coconut oil. Peanuts adds nice crunch to this rice dish.
In kannada we call this as nimbehannu chitranna. This recipe doesn’t need any elaborate cooking.
I am sure this easy peasy rice recipe will be your family favourite.
This is most common rice recipes from South Indian cuisine and very much part of festive meal. It is also part of every celebration in most of the family functions.
About Chitranna or Lemon Rice
This chitranna rice recipe is coastal Karnataka style dish prepared using cooked rice, lemon juice and other spices with freshly grated coconut. I prepare this lemon rice or chitranna using large lemons grown from our farm.
To make this rice we mix cooked rice with oggarane, fresh coconut gratings and freshly squeezed aromatic lemon juice. This is truly an authentic rice dish with great aroma of lemon juice.
This is the traditional recipe I follow as taught by my mother and grandmother. We love adding a lot of fresh grated coconut to chitranna. We make this rice when large aromatic lemons are in season especially during winters in this part of country.
This recipe is great way to use leftover rice on weekdays. Lemon rice makes a great tiffin box recipe or lunch box recipe. The yellow colour is mainly from turmeric added while making the seasoning.
This rice stays good for long days when prepared with freshly steamed rice as we are not using any water for mixing seasoning and cooked rice.
I love rice and make different rice for every alternate day which is quite quick and filling for my kids lunch box. Chitranna is a perfect for busy weekday nights as well.
My kids love eating this rice dish for their lunchbox. Do try this authentic chitranna recipe in your kitchen and do let me know your feedback.
Why like this rice recipe
Lemon rice or chitranna is easy to make and liked by most of them.
Quick rice recipe can be done in 15 minutes or less.
- An easy beginner’s recipe
- This is vegan rice recipe
- Dairy free recipe
- Easy breakfast recipe
- Kids friendly lunch box recipe
- Glutenfree rice recipe
- Plant based diet
- This is perfect recipe to turn leftover rice into a delicious meal
- A perfect bachelor’s recipe
- One pot meal recipe
Other recipes using lemons on blog
Small fry pan
Mixing bowl or plate
Cooked Rice – Cooked sona masori rice is used in making chitranna. In most of the household short grains are used to make chitranna. Less starchy, dry and moisture free cooked rice is used.
Coconut oil – Gives authentic taste of coastal Karnataka to this rice dish. You can use melted or solid coconut oil.
Seasoning spices and lentils – Mustard seeds, chana dal, urad dal are used to make chitranna oggarane. Roasted lentils give crunchiness and aroma to the rice.
Peanuts – These form an integral part of chitranna, it gives nice crunchiness to chitranna. You can use roasted peanuts however add them at the end. I have used skinned peanut, you can also add deskinned ones for this recipe.
Green Chilies (chopped) – Green chilies as per taste are added for spiciness and aroma. Slit or chopped green chilies can be used to make this recipe.
Turmeric powder – Yellow hue to this rice is achieved by adding a pinch of turmeric powder. I have used freshly homemade ground turmeric powder.
Coconut gratings – Finely grated fresh coconut is mixed with chitranna. It adds sweetness to rice and balances the tanginess from lemon.
Curry leaves – Karibevu or curry leaves roasted in coconut oil gives nice aroma to chitranna.
Salt as per taste – We use any kind of salt as per taste preference to make perfect chitranna.
Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice should be used. Always use fresh lemons, it gives refreshing flavours. In this recipe have used large variety lemons which are juicy and flavourful. Limes can also be used.
How to make chitranna or lemon rice?
Important preparation before making chitranna is cooking rice in proper way.
I have pressure cooked rice in this recipe. You can either pressure cook or in open vessel. I have used short grains to make rice in this recipe. Here is a step-by-step guide to make rice.
Use clean pest-free short grain rice. Wash, rinse rice in tap water for two to three times.
You can either the rice or cook it directly. Drain the water and pressure cook the rice with water (I have used 3 cups of water for every one cup rice)
Allow pressure to release naturally, spread cooked rice on a plate for cooling. This helps in fast cooling of rice, and you get separated rice grains.
Seasoning or chitranna gojju premix
This is the seasoning or oggarane we add to cooked rice, its the gojju premix that we can store for 3 to 4 hours and use it later.
Heat coconut oil in a small pan. On medium heat, fry mustard seeds until they splutter. Add peanuts and fry them on medium heat until they are nutty and crispy golden.
Add chopped green chilies and fry till they are crisp. Making them crispy gives nice aroma and you can chew them along with rice.
Next add chana dal, urad dal, on medium heat fry them until golden.
Add curry leaves, fry well until they turn crisp. You get nice aroma of curry leaves.
Next you can add turmeric powder and saute everything together. You get vibrant yellow hue colour and fresh turmeric flavours to seasoning.
Remove from the heat and cool the seasoning. This seasoning can be stored for 3 to 4 hours in an airtight container and used when required.
There are two ways of mixing rice with cooled seasoning. Add cooled cooked rice directly to pan and mix. Or we can add seasoning on the plate of cooled rice.
In this recipe I have followed second method for proper mixing. Add cooled coconut oil seasoning on cooked rice, also add salt as per taste.
Add freshly grated coconut and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the rice. Do not add stored lemon juice as it becomes bitter. Adjust lemon juice as per the tanginess and preference. Also we can adjust salt and green chilies to balance the flavours.
Start mixing the rice with seasoning. Let your fingers feel the texture and gently mix everything. You can also crush few curry leaves and roasted chilies while mixing.
Delicious flavourful and aromatic chitranna or lemon rice is ready to be served to your family.
Chitranna or lemon rice is mostly served with chutney or cucumber raita in most of South Indian restaurants.
Even papad and onion salad makes a great accompaniment. This rice can be served as it is without any accompaniments.
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Chitranna or lemon rice
- frying pan
- Mixing plate
- Seasoning or Oggarane
- Heat coconut oil in a small pan. On medium heat, fry mustard seeds until they splutter. Add peanuts and fry them on medium heat until they are nutty and crispy golden.
- Add chopped green chilies and fry till they are crisp. Making them crispy gives nice aroma and you can chew them along with rice.
- Next add chana dal, urad dal, on medium heat fry them until golden.
- Add curry leaves, fry well until they turn crisp. You get nice aroma of curry leaves.
- Next you can add turmeric powder and saute everything together. You get vibrant yellow hue colour and fresh turmeric flavours to seasoning.
- Remove from the heat and cool the seasoning.
- There are two ways are mixing rice with cooled seasoning. Add cooled cooked rice directly to pan and mix. Or we can add seasoning on the plate of cooled rice.
- In this recipe I have followed second method for proper mixing. Add cooled coconut oil seasoning on cooked rice, also add salt as per taste.
- Add freshly grated coconut and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the rice. Adjust lemon juice as per the tanginess and preference. Also adjust salt and green chilies to balance the flavours.
- Start mixing the rice with seasoning. Let your fingers feel the texture and gently mix everything. You can also crush few curry leaves and roasted chilies while mixing.
- Delicious flavourful and aromatic chitranna or lemon rice is ready to be served to your family.
- Chitranna or lemon rice is mostly served with chutney or cucumber raita in most of South Indian restaurants.
- Even papad and onion salad makes a great accompaniment. This rice can be served as it is without any accompaniments.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Chitranna has many variations and every home in different regions of Karnataka follow their own recipe. Here are few variations that you can try
Rice – Short grain sona masuri rice can be substituted with long grain basmati or other short grains.
Peanuts – These can be replaced with roasted cashewnuts. However traditionally peanuts are added for seasoning.
Fresh coconut gratings – I recommend using fresh coconut grating for this recipe. However if its unavailable near the place you stay, then you can easily substitute with dessicated coconut. Do not add grated kobbari (dry coconut) as we do not cook in seasoning and add it separately. This tastes different compared to fresh coconut or dessicated coconut.
Green chilies – Birds eye chilies or gandari menasu can also be used.
Red chilies – Green chilies can be replaced with red chilies, just check with the spiciness of chilies and adjust as per the taste.
Green chili paste – If you are not comfortable with bites of green chili in chitranna, then can add green chilie paste. Fry on low flame to avoid burning and for maximum spiciness.
Raw Mangoes – Grated raw mango or unripe mango can be used instead of lemon juice and it adds beautiful flavour.
Using ghee for seasoning – Coconut oil can be replaced with ghee or clarified butter. However, the flavour of rice changes compared to authentic coconut oil flavour.
Using coriander leaves – Chitranna can be topped with finely chopped coriander leaves.
Onion and garlic – Traditionally onion and garlic do not form the part of this recipe, however few of them use them in seasoning either in crushed or chopped onions.
Capsicum – Capsicum and lemon make a great combination; we can use finely chopped capsicum in the seasoning of chitranna.
Sesame seeds – Roasted sesame seeds can be added to the seasoning for aroma and crunchiness.
Asafoetida – We can use asafoetida in the seasoning for extra earthy flavour.
Pecan or Walnuts can be used – Instead of peanuts we can add chopped pecans or walnuts, however it loses its authentic taste.
Do not add lemon juice to hot seasoning. It becomes bitter if cooked with seasoning. Do not cook the seasoning after adding lemon juice.
Adjust the quantity of lemon juice as per your taste preference.
Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice otherwise it becomes bitter if stored for long or refrigerated.
Always cook rice beforehand, may be 1 to 2 hours. This helps the rice remain separated and makes perfect lemon rice.
Mixing and crushing the seasoning gently with cooled cooked rice gives a great flavour.
If chitranna is tangy to taste, you can always adjust the spiciness. Simply fry few chopped chillies in coconut oil and mix it with rice. This balances the flavours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can we make it nut free?
If you are allergic to nuts, yes this recipe can be made nut free by skipping peanuts. However, adding peanuts gives a nice crunch to chitranna.
Can we use basmati rice?.
Yes basmati rice can be used, however make sure to cook them non-sticky separated grains. Flavour of chitranna also changes due to aroma of basmati rice.
Can we freeze chitranna rice?
I prefer not freezing rice and serve it when freshly prepared rice. However if you are used to freezing then you can follow the same.
Can we make this ahead of time?
Yes it can be made ahead of time, may be three to four hours before serving it.
Can we use red chilies?
Yes we can use red chilies instead of chopped green chilies.
Can we use leftover rice to make chitranna?
This rice recipe suits best with leftover rice or freshly prepared rice.
Can we add dry fruits?
We can add fried cashewnuts instead of peanuts in this recipe.
Can we skip coconut?
Freshly grated coconut gives great aroma and crunchiness to chitranna. So recommend using coconut to make this rice. It also balances the tanginess of lemon in the recipe.
Pavithra M Adiga
I am a passionate foodie and food photographer with love to document easy, simple to follow, healthy vegetarian recipes in Dice n Cook.
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