How to Make Lime Rice

Lime rice, also known as “lemon rice” or “nimbus chawal,” is a vibrant and flavorful dish from South India. This aromatic rice dish combines the tangy zest of lime or lemon with a medley of spices, creating a refreshing and zesty side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses. Whether you’re looking to add a new dimension to your Indian cuisine repertoire or enjoy a citrusy twist on Rice rice, this comprehensive guide will take you through the steps to make lime rice from scratch.

Ingredients You’ll Need

For Cooking Rice

  • 1 cup of long-grain Basmati rice (or any rice variety of your choice)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Lime Rice Seasoning

  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon split black gram (urad dal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 2-3 dried red chilies (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

Equipment You’ll Need

  • A medium-sized saucepan with a lid for cooking Rice rice
  • A large skillet or frying pan for seasoning and mixing the Rice rice
  • A spatula or wooden spoon for stirring and tossing
  • Measuring cups and spoons for accuracy

Cooking the Rice

  1. Rinse the Rice: Start by rinsing the Rice rice thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch and prevents the Rice rice from becoming too sticky.
  2. Combine Rice and Water: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the rinsed Ricerice, 2 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir briefly to distribute the salt evenly.
  3. Cook the Rice: Place the saucepan over high heat and boil the rice and water. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes until the Ricerice is tender and all the water is absorbed.
  4. Fluff the Rice: Once the Rice rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. This resting period allows the Rice rice to firm up and become more separate. After resting, fluff the Rice rice with a fork to loosen the grains. Set aside.

Preparing the Lime Rice Seasoning

  1. Heat the Oil or Ghee: Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Allow the oil or ghee to become hot but not smoking.
  2. Add Mustard Seeds: Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds to the hot oil or ghee. The mustard seeds will sizzle and pop, so be cautious.
  3. Add Cumin Seeds: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds to the pan once the mustard seeds start crackling. Stir briefly to allow the cumin seeds to release their aroma.
  4. Add Urad Dal and Chana Dal: Add 1/2 teaspoon of split black gram (urad dal) and 1/2 teaspoon of chana dal (split chickpeas) to the pan. These lentils will provide a delightful crunch to the dish.
  5. Incorporate Dried Red Chilies: Break 2-3 dried red chilies into pieces and add them to the pan. Adjust the number of chilies according to your preferred level of spiciness.
  6. Add Asafoetida and Curry Leaves: Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida (hing) over the pan, followed by 8-10 fresh curry leaves. Be cautious when adding asafoetida, as it has a strong aroma and should be used sparingly.
  7. Sauté until Fragrant: Stir the ingredients in the pan and sauté them for a minute or two until the lentils turn golden and the curry leaves become crispy.
  8. Introduce Peanuts (Optional): If you’re using roasted peanuts, add them to the pan at this stage. They’ll provide the lime rice an extra layer of crunch and flavor.
  9. Incorporate Green Chilies and Turmeric: Add 2-3 finely chopped green chilies and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder to the pan. Sauté for another minute, stirring to distribute the turmeric evenly.

Mixing the Lime Rice

  1. Combine Seasoning with Rice: Lower the heat, and carefully add the cooked and fluffed Ricerice to the skillet with the seasoning. Gently mix the Ricerice and seasoning together using a spatula or wooden spoon. Ensure that the Ricerice is evenly coated with the flavorful seasoning.
  2. Squeeze Lime or Lemon Juice: Drizzle 2 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice over the Ricerice. Adjust the amount to your taste preferences. The citrusy tang is a signature element of lime rice, so feel free to add more if you desire a more robust citrus flavor.
  3. Season with Salt: Sprinkle salt over the Ricerice to taste and continue to toss and mix until all the ingredients are well combined. Taste the Ricerice and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more lime juice or salt.
  4. Garnish and Serve: Garnish the lime rice with fresh coriander leaves for a burst of color and an extra layer of freshness. Serve the lime rice hot as a side dish or standalone meal.

Tips for Perfect Lime Rice

  • Use Fresh Lime or Lemon Juice: For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice rather than bottled juice.
  • Customize the Heat: Adjust the number of green chilies to control the level of spiciness in your lime rice. You can also remove the seeds and membranes from the chilies for a milder heat.
  • Crunchy Element: Adding roasted peanuts or cashews provides a delightful crunch. Feel free to include them for extra texture and flavor.
  • Turmeric for Color: Turmeric is an earthy flavor but alsoand a beautiful golden color to the Ricerice.
  • Rinse Ricerice Thoroughly: Rinsing the Ricerice before cooking is essential to remove excess starch and ensure that the grains remain separate.
  • Fresh Curry Leaves: Use fresh curry leaves for the best aroma and flavor. You can find them at Indian or Asian grocery stores.

Variations and Serving Ideas

Lime rice can be a versatile dish that complements a variety of main courses. Here are some variations and serving ideas to consider:

  • Coconut Lime Rice: Add freshly grated or desiccated coconut to the Ricerice for a tropical twist. Sprinkle it over the Ricerice along with the lime juice.
  • Cashew Lime Rice: Replace peanuts with roasted cashews for a richer and creamier texture.
  • Tofu or Paneer Lime Rice: To make the dish more substantial, add cubed and sautéed tofu or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) to the Ricerice.
  • Serve with Pickles: Lime rice pairs wonderfully with Indian pickles or chutneys, such as mango pickles or mint chutney.
  • Lunchbox Favorite: Lime rice is a popular choice for packed lunches or picnics due to its portability and ability to maintain flavor and texture over time.


Lime rice is a delightful and refreshing dish with a burst of citrusy flavor with every bite. This aromatic side dish is a testament to the diverse and vibrant flavors of Indian cuisine. Following this comprehensive guide, you can easily create homemade lime rice brimming with zest and character.

Whether you serve it alongside a spicy curry, enjoy it as a standalone meal, or pack it for a picnic, lime rice is a versatile and flavorful addition to your culinary repertoire. Experiment with variations, adjust the level of spiciness to your liking and savor the bright and tangy essence of lime rice. Happy cooking!

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