Lime Rice is that made-in-a-jiffy lunch that my mother used to make for me growing up. The citrus sourness and the nutty peanut flavour still makes my mouth water. Contrary to the decadent and royally rich Biryanis, lime rice is everyday fare taken to a more flavourful level by its sheer simplicity.
The best part about this, apart from the fluffy texture and aromatic flavour, is just how colourful and inviting the bright yellow coloured rice is for the hungry soul.
So, what am I wasting your time for, right? Might as well get on with it!
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup rice (I use the Ponni variety, see tips for substitutes)
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 whole dried chillies
2 – 3 curry leaves
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (see tips for substitutes)
pinch of asafoetida
1 tbsp chana dal (split Bengal gram)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
juice of 1 lime (roughly 2 tbsp, see Tips for substitutes)
1/2 tsp salt
- Wash the rice twice or thrice in plain water and drain. Boil the rice with the drinking water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the vessel. Drain the rice of its water. (Don’t throw it away! Rice water is a good source of nutrients! See Tips at the end of the recipe for more.)
- While the rice cooks, heat your kadhai with the oil.
- Once the oil starts bubbling, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, whole dried chillies, turmeric powder and dal and fry on low heat until the mustard seeds stop popping.
- Turn the heat off, add the lime juice, salt and roasted peanuts.
- Pour in the tadka (the Indian word for the oil infusion you’ve just made) into the drained rice and toss with the slotted spoon until mixed thoroughly.
- Serve with a healthy serving of curd or spicy Indian pickle, or it as is!
Any medium to long grain white rice with a low starch content is good for this recipe. Basmati rice works too, although there tends to be a clash of aromas since Basmati is aromatic by itself. Choose a rice that is not aromatic for the best way to savour the taste of this dish.
Don’t have peanuts? Cashew nuts work just as well. So do pinenuts, sunflower seeds or melon seeds. The idea is to give the dish variety in terms of texture without overpowering the delicate hit of citrus in the rice. Or, just don’t use any nuts at all! It’s entirely up to you (but, the nuts make it all the more delectable).
No lime? Use lemon juice! Increase the quantity of lemon juice by half though, since lemons are a less acidic than limes.