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Lemon Coconut Rice

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This rice dish is found in most South Indian restaurants. I grew up in North India and although we ate South Indian food once in a while, I really didn’t get exposed to most of the cuisine until I came to the US- actually probably more after I married my husband- he grew up in the South. We usually go out for South Indian food now but I have started making some of the dishes at home.  I love cooking with mustard seeds and curry leaves- they give any dish a very earthy aromatic flavor.  I make this lemon rice dish as well as a lot of meat and seafood curries that are very popular in the South .  I have stopped ordering lemon rice in restaurants now because I feel I have come up with the perfect recipe for this dish and don’t like how they make it in restaurants any more.  It took me a while and a lot of tries to come up with the perfect concoction. I love the combination of the crunchy mustard seeds, peanuts and the two dals that are sauteed with the rest of the mixture. Citrus flavor from the fresh lemon juice is balanced really well with the creamy rice.  Usually fresh coconut is grated on top as a garnish- I decided to cook the rice in coconut milk instead- as, fresh coconut is hard to get and the coconut milk flavor permeates throughout the dish making it utterly delicious.  This dish can be eaten by itself or with a curry.  I usually make toor dal , a fish curry or a chicken curry– whatever you eat it with, I can guarantee you will love it!

  • 1 cup basmati rice (jasmine rice can be substituted)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons split urad dal
  • 2 teaspoons channa dal
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • A pinch of asafetida
  • ½ cup peanuts, roasted
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Cook the rice with a mixture of coconut milk, water and turmeric. Cool the rice off once cooked and keep aside.
In a large wok like pan, heat the oil. Add the urad and channa dal and sauté for about 30 seconds on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and saute for another minute. Next, add the red chilies and asafetida. Add the cooked and cooled rice. Mix well. Add the peanuts, lemon juice and salt. Mix well and serve.

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