29 June 2021

Lemon rice and more


They say,"If life gives you lemon,make lemonade." but what I do,when life gives me lemon,I squeeze the heaven out of it and make a simple,homely, yet divinely lemon rice.😉😍


Lemons are also considered quite auspicious and holy and so offered as a lemon garland to Hindu Gods.

What is Lemon Rice?

Lemon rice is rice made with the main ingredient lemon juice and some seasonings. Rice is basically a staple and comfort food for Indians (except the super fitness freaks). So, especially in the Southern part of India, rice is a part and parcel of the daily meals. Rice and curry rules and rocks almost every Indian foodie's palate. There are many varieties of rice in India, starting from Nawabi/royal Biryanis to Indo-Chinese fried rice to varieties of easy to make yet healthy and yummy, rice-like Curd rice, Tamarind rice, Tomato rice, and Lemon rice, and many more adding up by the innovative home-based and professional chefs...

Lemon rice is quite popular in the South Indian state of Karnataka.It is famously known as "Chitranna".(What a pretty name ! ) .Lemon rice is also offered to God as a prasadam/offering .



As exactly mentioned in Wiki, " Chitranna rice dish finds mention in medieval Indian cookbooks Manasollasa (1130 AD) and Pakadarpana (1200 AD) as "Chitrapaka".[1] "

Memories -Train and Lemon rice - My best travel companions

Yaatriyaan kripiyaan dhyaan de...........................

Like every child, I used to look forward to my school summer vacation except for those holiday homework for every subject we got, it felt,as if teachers were jealous of granting us these long holidays. Nevertheless, we all used to look forward
to the summer holidays. Every summer vacation we used to go to Kerala,my native place in India. Even before my
school would close, there would be a fun-filled/chilled atmosphere around.


We would go for this biig shopping haul,buying gifts for my relatives and also new dresses for us .Achcha/Papa would book train tickets and that would make me thrilled .I would be discussing this with my Malayalee classmates/juniors/seniors to figure out who all are going to
Kerala on the same day as me. And on the last day of school before summer vacation, we all would be like,"Bye for now and see you
in TRAIN"....Yayyy...💃🚂

Tissue pls....dil hoom hoom karein

We were very lucky that we had a direct train from Bokaro (the place I was brought up in North India ) to Alleppey (My native place
also known as the Venice of the East, in South India). But it took THREE days to reach by train. And I LOVED IT !! 😁

I LOVE traveling in Indian trains and that too in the ordinary compartments, a seat by the window side and my loved ones beside..is equal to pure joy , simple pleasures of life. 

Unlike flights (though thankful to God for all the opportunities to fly) , where I feel stuck in a 
row of passengers,served some fixed bland foods, glued on a seat, tired of watching varieties of clouds , teenie-weenie houses at the bottom, and
 feeling up above the world so high,like a superhuman in the sky,train traveling in ordinary compartments is a journey with hidden surprises,
a peek to an unknown world, and a story ready to unfold..


As the train goes through the Indian countryside, one can witness a glimpse of rural India ... 
a bunch of small houses to beautiful colorful houses, small temples,churches, and mosques far and wide..surrounded by long paddy fields and lush green trees..
from ladies feeding their kids or sweeping the floor at their tiny home, to kids waving at the train with a twinkle in their innocent eyes,
 men carrying the kid on the shoulder, farmers plowing the field with their cow/bull in the early hours, people waiting for the train to pass on the railway crossing ,women vendors selling flowers like Jasmine ,kanakambaram etc or fruits perfect for 
a scorching summer ,men vendors carrying huge filter/can/tin/kettle of hot tea yelling,"Chai,chai garam " ready to jump into the moving
 train with a flair ,like a local James Bond/heroic style...

Well, if one knows how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, then a train journey like this is for sure...


The fun ends for the moment when the train has to stop for the other train to make a pass ,waiting for long can make people
restless,helpless, and moody...but the moment the other train zooms through,one can get a quick peek into the people on board 
on the other train..some peeping into our train,some sitting at the steps of the exit door of their compartment ...Kids waving gleefully...

It is a sigh of great relief and happiness when our train jerks up ,makes it move with its jhatkas and matkas to chalthi ka 
naam gaadi ...heheheee

Other fun begins the moment the train speeds down haule haule ,stops at a station,one can witness group of people
getting ready /hurrying to board the train ,vendors at every nook and corner trying to get your attention,station master
 waving the red/green flag..and some people from my train all set and excited to reach/get down to their final destination....


I used to look forward to big stops like these as my father would buy us anything we would ask skipping the usual unhygienic lecture ......And every food bought used to be simply finger-licking...Then papa or bhaiya/bro would
rush to fill our big water cooler and in some places, the water would be salty and people complaining and still drinking with a heavy heart
and then one realizes the true importance of fresh cool non-salty water which we sometimes knowingly or unknowingly
used to waste at home and no wonder why amma used to scold us for the same...

During such long stops, we were allowed to get out of the compartment, get some fresh air, and say hi to our family friends 
in the other compartment ...Then one could hear a loud horn as if the train is yelling/warning, "Get into the train RIGHT NOW or I am leaving !"


And inside the train was another type of story,kahani boggi-boggie ki,compartment-compartment ki,seat-seat ki,logo-logo ki ...
People rushing into the train to find their seat,a spot to fit in their luggage either underneath the seat or if they don't have much luggage 
and have got the middle or upper berth of the train,they would put their carry bag or small luggage to capture their spot ...There used to be a sense of 
silence as soon as a TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) would make the round like a Principal of the school, travelers alert with tickets in their hands...

And then one gets a peek into a stranger's life , exchanging stories,foods,making new connections or by being a silent observer and lasting memories..
Vendors passing or stopping by selling hot cuppa tea and snacks or cool drinks,fresh fruit of the season or varieties of mouth-watering snacks hard to resist and buy...
Others selling books,magazines, beggars sweeping the floor,singing, etc for pennies,notes or at least any leftover food in return....One can also see lots of 
MLAs (Mouth Looking Agents) ,that's a lingo used by my mothers and friends at school for vaayinokkis / Oglers 😄...staring at beautiful girls,for some,it would be a beginning of a fresh love story ,
 exchanging phone numbers etc...


Some newly wedded couples glued to each other and romancing kinda decently as there are kids and elders around, aunties gossiping 
about their daughter-in-law, praising their own kids, uncles discussing the political parties and the bad side of the Indian Govt. as if,if they were appointed instead would have made a remarkable 
mark in the history of India...to kids playing antakshari or dumb charads,some reading novels ,men playing cards, women sleeping for long ....(I must say I loved watching my mom taking 
long day naps as well during the journey, it was good to see her taking the well-deserved rest,which she would avoid at home and papa/achcha making sure no one disturbs her beauty sleep ...haan yehi pyaar hai :) )

The only thing I really felt uncomfortable with was using the toilet, which I always prayed should be clean, otherwise a big-time mood spoiler.

On the third day,when we (train and us) would touch Kerala, those tall coconut trees dancing with the air, lush green paddy fields, the aroma 
from a Malayalee's kitchen,vadas, and parampuris on different stations would make us sooo excited, desperately waiting for our final destination /station and my grandpa or other relatives waiting for us to pick up 
from the station or sometimes we would request them ,that we will hire a taxi and come by ourselves ...The route to my ancestral home itself used to be quite nostalgic
and no words can explain to see our grandparents and all my aunts, uncles, cousins waiting for our arrival at home...YES,we are finally home !


For me, these 3 days of travel would be a one of a kind journey to cherish forever - profound, colorful, comfortable yet uncomfortable,
sweaty,smelly yet blending ,noisy and nosy ,enlightening yet humble ,sharing ,caring, and adjusting, a wonderful mini time travel, moving forward 
to a temporary destination.

Whenever we go to India,if we have enough holidays, I insist my hubby, to travel in a train than a flight when required and possible, and that too
in an ordinary compartment, though he prefers the AC one which is quite convenient, safe, and comfortable but the fun killer for me...
and if I get a chance to travel by train I am the happiest:))))


When it came to food ...

My mother used to prepare food for the first day of traveling. Lemon rice was the main thing on the menu.
Because of the lemon and seasoning, this rice had a good shelf life for a day for sure without getting spoiled.Paaavam amma,she used to wake
up early and make lemon rice for all of us ,some side dishes like chamanthi podi,mezhukupurrati/vegetable stir fries,
pickles ,fried fish or egg roast, and moru curry, a yogurt-based curry . This used to be our typical homemade menu while traveling.


Achcha/Papa used to put them into clean plastic covers and seal them using a candle (our DIY ziplock bags 😆 ) .And the main
food was neatly wrapped in fresh Banana leaves from our quarter's backyard where my parents used to have a good
size vegetable garden with Moringa trees,Cassava/Yucca trees,curry leaf plants,Guava tree, and many varities of plants...

Foods served or wrapped in Banana leaves have their own health benefits. The best part is that any food that is wrapped in Banana leaves
keeps the food not only fresh but also tastier. The aroma itself is simply homely yet heavenly, especially for Malayalees or South Indians.


While I would be busy hiding all my books into the cup-boards like  "Yeah, that's where you belong-get lost !" and day-dreaming about my Kerala holidays 
and excited to wear the new dress amma bought for me,my parents were busy preparing meals, packing suitcases, filling water into the huge water-cooler we took for the three days journey and my brother probably still 
watching cricket on the TV as he or papa were supposed to unplug all the electronic items at home (to save electricity ).

The day would be hurry-burry for all ...friends visiting to bid goodbye...reaching the station on time ...happy to 
board the train on time and then starts the amazing funfilled memorable train journey....


And when it's lunchtime,amma would gently pick up all food parcels neatly arranged in a carry bag and unwrap it..
the aroma swaying from the food that kinda got mish-mashed in the Banana leaves itself will fill half the hungry belly..
and the taste ...Oh My God....is simply indescribable ....

Though my amma's lemon rice is a very simple recipe .I have added kaju-kishmish/cashew nut - Raisins ...
Raisin adjusts/complements the tanginess of lemon.


The good thing about lemon rice is that one can eat it by itself,it really doesn't demand any curry or other dish by side...
But I made a mini feast with potato stir fry , homemade pickle, egg roast, and moru curry,a yogurt-based curry Kerala style on the side...
They all together, complement each other making it an ideal lunch!

SO,let me share with you how we make homemade lemon rice :


Lemon rice 



Sona Masoori rice - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups
Salt to taste
Ghee - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 - 2 Tsps


Lemon Juice - 2-3 Tbsps
Green chilies - 1-4 Nos.
Peanuts - Handfuls
Cashew nuts & Raisins - Handful
Urad Dal/Black Lentil - 1-3 Tsps
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/8th Tsp
Oil - 1-4 Tbsps
Curry leaves, a few
Broken red chilies - 2 Nos.

Preparation Method to make lemon rice 
  1. Clean the rice under water twice to remove the starch and any dirt and drain the water away.
  2. Transfer it into a wide or long pan, add 4 cups of water, and the cleaned rice.
  3. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, and ghee, and give a stir.
  4. Let it come to a full boiling point, then reduce the flame, cover with a lid and let it cook until the rice turns soft to break into two.Make sure no water is left or drain the rice in a colander.
  5. Then put off the flame and very gently give it a stir.
  6. The rice is ready.
  7. Heat a pan on medium flame, add oil, splutter mustard seeds.
  8. Reduce the flame, add the broken red chilies, whole or cut green chilies, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, peanuts, and cashew nuts, keep on sauteing until the peanuts are cooked on medium flame,do not burn it.
  9. Add raisins, curry leaves, and lemon juice to it and let it simmer for a minute on low flame.
  10. Put off the flame.
  11. Transfer the seasoning into the prepared rice and give a gentle mix.
  12. Add salt if needed.
  13. That's it lemon rice is ready.
  • Basmati rice can also be used but if not careful it may break. Don't overcook the rice.
  • Add more or less lemon juice according to the sourness desired.
  • Instead of adding the turmeric while cooking the rice (which evenly gives the rice that yellowish tint),
          it can be added later into the seasoning and mixed with the plain rice.
  • Mix the rice and seasoning very gently without breaking the rice.
  • For the seasoning, very simple lemon rice can be made with just oil/ghee, mustard, and red chilies as well.


This is my simple yet filling lemon rice . Here, in the US Hindu temples, lemon rice is usually offered as prasadams to God which tastes so refreshing/blessing in every way.I am not a huge fan of lemon rice but every bit of it reignites lots of memory of bygone days
..and the present..

Lemon rice is also very healthy because of the health benefits of lemon juice and seasoning. Perfect food for lunch box,during sick days or 
lazy days or for long travel by train..


Talking about the lemon reminds me of that song ,ek gana ho jaye,

निम्बुड़ा, निम्बुड़ा, निम्बुड़ा अरे काचा काचा, छोटा छोटा, निम्बुड़ा लाई दो
इत्ता सा है, पर है तो रसीला, निम्बुड़ा चखा रा था बड़ा है छबीला, निम्बूड़ा इसकी खुशबू से भी ललचा जाता है ये मन, रखदे जुबां पर दो बस, अई अई अई अई,........निम्बुड़ा लाई दो............(हम दिल दे चुके सनम movie)

And make lemon rice /Neembu chaawal/Naranga Choru😉😋😊

On that tasty note , phir milengey chalthey chalthey ,

Always take care , stay safe and healthy,

For now,Adios Amigos....

Love and light ,stay away from Corona Bite 😉😁