Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Chitrannam (Lemon Rice)

Nimmakaya Pulihora:

Prasadam in temples, part of festival feast, or simple lunch – Chitrannam or lemon rice plays an important part of South Indian meal. Our celebratory feasts are not complete without this particular dish. The tangy rice prepared with lemon juice refreshes the palate after the sweet beginnings, as you may already know it is an Indian tradition to serve the sweet first. I think serving these two, traditional Indian sweet and chitrannam together, is our elders way of reminding us to appreciate life moments, both sweet and sour. That is why, I think the temple prasadam or the celebratory food in all moments of our lives includes chitrannam.

People, who know the taste, crave this lemony rice. Even though the recipe is so simple to make, there is always one expert in the family who prepares the best chitrannam. In my home, I can manage an edible one, but Vijay prepares the ‘can’t get enough’ version. We do use the same ingredients and methods; still I don’t know how his version always turns out so exceptional. I am sure it is true in every other south Indian family too. Only chosen few are blessed by Annapurna, the Goddess of Food, to prepare this favorite food of Gods. It is one of those recipes, where either you have it or you don’t. And I am sorry to say that even though I know the authentic recipe, follow all the tricks and tips still the end result in my case always turns out mediocre. There is no magic in my hand.:)

What about you, are you the chosen one? Try it out, if you have not already done so.

(Serves two)

Limes, cashews, peanuts, majjiga mirapakaayalu, vertically slit green chillies, mustard seeds, cumin, red chilli, curry leaves, soaked chana dal, urad dal, cubed potato

4 cups of freshly cooked rice. (Any kind of white rice is ok for this recipe, but I prefer ‘Sona Masuri’. Cook it like for pulao or fried rice but not like pongal or risotto.
Limes and Chillies
2 to 3 juicy limes – cut and juice to a cup
6 to 8 green chillies, Indian or Thai variety – slit vertically
(Chitrannam needs spicy punch from chillies. So, add one or two chillies (of any variety) more than your normal tolerance of chillies. Otherwise the dish falls apart, and lime juice dominates the taste.)
¼ cup – Chana dal (senaga pappu), pre-soaked in water at least half an hour before.
2 tablespoons – urad dal (minapa pappu)
1 teaspoon each – salt and turmeric
2 tablespoons –ghee, Or oil for calorie-consicous.
For popu or tadka
1/2 tsp each – mustard seeds, cumin, and red dry chilli pieces.
12- 15 fresh curry leaves. Don’t forget to add the fresh curry leaves. Chitrannam is not authentic or complete without the curry leaves.

You can prepare decent, basic version of chitrannam with the above items. But for special occasions, and if you want to impress guests or family, then you need the following items too.

Quarter cup – cashews
Quarter cup – peanuts
Quarter cup vegetables – I usually add potato, finely cubed, sometimes Indian type brinjal and shredded carrot too.
5 to 6 majjiga mirapa kaayalu (Green chillies soaked in buttermilk and completely dried in sun, a specialty of Andhra), deep fried in oil.


In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of ghee. First add peanuts, fry them until they turn light brown. Remove. Add and fry cashews next. Remove from the pan to a plate, keep them aside.

Now in the same skillet, add another tablespoon of ghee. Heat. Add and fry the curry leaves first. Then cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to splutter, add the split green chillies, chana dal, urad dal, and cubed potatoes. Saute them till golden and crisp. In the end, sprinkle half teaspoon turmeric for that golden yellow color. Mix and then saute for another one to two minutes.

cashews and peanuts saut�ing in ghee  saut�ing the Chitrannam/lemon rice ingredients in ghee
Sauteing the cashews and Peanuts…… Sauteing the veggies and dals

Mixing turmeric Mixing saut�ed ingredients with rice along with lime juice
Stirring in turmeric………. Squeezing some lime juice over rice and sauteed ingredients

Add the sauteed ingredients of skillet, and also the toasted peanuts and cashews to the cooked rice. Stir in salt and sprinkle the limejuice. Combine thoroughly and delicately (without breaking the rice grains) with your hand or using a big slotted spoon.

Have a taste, it should zing or shock your taste buds like sucking on a fresh lime wedge. If not, add some more limejuice and salt. Mix again. And keep in mind that rice absorbs the limejuice, and the tanginess you feel during the preparation reduces in intensity after sometime.

Serve with fried majjiga mirapakaayalu (buttermilk soaked, dried green chillies) and a cup of yogurt for a nice meal.

Lemon Rice and Pickled Green Chilli (Chitrannam and Majjiga Mirapa kaayalu)
chitrannam(Lemon Rice) with majjiga mirapa kaayalu.

Chitrannam, the English translation of this Telugu word is chitra= wonderful, magical, Annam= rice. This Refreshing lemony rice is all that and more, and tastes great when served hot or cold.

Recipe Source:Attamma(MIL)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Biyyamu (Rice),Cashews,Limes/Lemons,Peanuts,Sona Masuri Rice (Friday October 7, 2005 at 2:07 pm- permalink)
Comments (46)

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46 comments for Chitrannam (Lemon Rice) »

  1. Indira…one of the things I love so about your posts? Those beautiful photos! Excellent job, as always.

    Comment by Stephanie — October 7, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

  2. Stephanie, I am happy that you enjoy the photos and this site. Thanks!

    Comment by Indira — October 7, 2005 @ 3:28 pm

  3. I agree with Stephanie! I really do think the photo of the ingredients is helpful in so many ways. For unfamiliar ingredients or in situations where you not sure about sizes, etc., it informs you instantly. But it also gives you a sense (even better than the photo of the completed dish) of what the prepared dish is like. This dish looks so good!!

    Comment by Cathy — October 7, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

  4. Delicious photo and recipe! We make it similarly except we do not use cumin or the potato. I have never had lemon rice with mor milagai. Will try it next time!

    Comment by mika — October 7, 2005 @ 5:12 pm

  5. Oh lordy, that looks delicious! I love your stories behind this special dish. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

    Comment by Beth - The Zen Foodist — October 7, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

  6. Hi Indira… First off Thank you very much for creating this website and maintaining it… I accidentally found this website as I was searching for “alasandalu” on google and what to do with them… as soon as I found just brought back memories of rayalaseema vantalu.. I’m from anantapur and all my friends from there have settled here too… They all LOVE your site.. especially, as this is one of the first website with pictures at different stages of a recipe… now for anything even though i might have cooked it before, I check your website before doing it… Thanks again and keep up the wonderful work…

    Aparna & friends..

    Comment by Aparna — October 8, 2005 @ 1:13 pm

  7. Cathy: thanks. The reason I started this blog is because I couldn’t find any food and ingredient photos of Indian recipes on google and yahoo image search.

    Mika.. Mor Milagai(Majjiga Mirapa kaayalu) taste great with chitrannam. You know the Andhra people need bam and more bam. 🙂

    Beth: thanks! and you too enjoy the weekend.

    Aparna: I am glad you and your friends enjoy this site. I am very happy to see that Mahanandi’s recipes approved by fellow Andhra people. I look forward to seeing feedback from you and your friends. Thanks.

    Comment by Indira — October 8, 2005 @ 6:14 pm

  8. Yummm… I love lemon rice, although my version is more basic and focuses on the lemony taste 🙂 God, do I love home-made mor-molagai (the majjiga mirapa kaayalu you mentioned) -havent had it in ages 🙁 Not enough sun to make it here, although I will probably try next summer! 🙂 And just out of curiosity, you wouldnt have a recipe for that, would you, Indira?

    Comment by shammi — October 9, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

  9. ah- I have not heard ‘chitranam’ in so long!
    I must try this soon- I think right after we are back from our vacation!:)

    Comment by akr — October 10, 2005 @ 5:47 am

  10. Shammi..I remember your almost similar, mouth watering chitrannam post, particularly the chitrannam photo, so yummy looking.
    Last summer, I made mor-molagai here. They turned out good. Yep, I have the recipe, but it includes very bright Sun:)-

    Comment by Indira — October 10, 2005 @ 9:09 am

  11. Hello

    We saw Chitranam recipe and found it very interesting. The photos looks very nice and mouth watering. As you said only few people are blessed by annapurna to make delicious chitranam. I have some small suggestion to the recipe, you can try grinding green chilli with cumin seeds and make a paste of it and add it to popu, which will give a very real kick to chitranam.

    Comment by Sirisha Kotliyal — February 6, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  12. hi very nice recipies and photos toooo..great job…i tried some recipies and got good compliments from my family….very nice work u re doing…
    thank u once again

    Indira replies…
    Glad to be of any help, Purnima and thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

    Comment by purnima — February 12, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  13. Wow! great website…….fantastic photos!
    Good job! Very nice recipes….i love all ur recipes…..U r simply superb….love the website! keep up all the good work!

    Indira replies:
    Thanks Raji.

    Comment by raji — March 27, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  14. Simply superb. thanks Indira gaaru. Gr8 andhra is added with the photographs. Kudos once again

    Indira replies:
    Thanks Roopa!

    Comment by Roopa — March 28, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  15. THis is amazing, I love your website, makes cooking easier that foodtv….
    I was not sure if this had ginger in the original recipe

    Comment by Cathy — April 19, 2006 @ 10:24 am

  16. looks so delicious…i’ve seen such nice photos for the recipe!

    Comment by priya — April 19, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

  17. Hi Indira,

    My friend VamC recommended this site and generally he prefers good ones.. but your site is best.. and whenever we used to travel out of india we used to carry a pdf document containing indian recipes ( I can cook average as per my mom’s comments).. now I dont see the need of carrying the pdf .. i have your site memorized for recipes..
    I appreciate your effort for all the snaps and transalations.


    Indira replies:
    Thanks for your nice words about my blog. Appreciate it.

    Comment by Sivakumar — May 3, 2006 @ 5:45 am

  18. I tried this and this is what I call delicious. This rice preparation is so good and comforting to eat.

    Comment by Archana G — May 16, 2006 @ 7:58 pm

  19. Greetings indira,
    I am juzz a beginner in the art of cookin but what a bettr way then meeting the rite guru.i hope i can b as good as u.Ur way of presentation n explanation has more a personal touchn thats spl ( not to forget Vijay)
    i am gona keep cookin till u keep teachin.
    regards abhi.

    Comment by abhishek — June 4, 2006 @ 3:13 am

  20. Hi Indira:

    Made it today and it was awesome. I used grated carrots and the cubed potatoes as you’d suggested..yummeh!

    Indira replies:
    Great! You are blessed by Annapurna, you have a good hand. 🙂

    Comment by Janani — June 19, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  21. I enjoyed all the recipes and beautiful pictures
    It is so good that I feel like eating right from the computer screen. I am going to try several recipes. Keep up the good work

    Comment by Sunita Puri — June 20, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  22. Hi Indira,

    Great recipe…Chitrannam is like our family favorite, especially my husband’s. Will try out your style. I also add chopped onions to saute…

    Best Regards,

    Comment by Manasa — June 20, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

  23. your photos are simply mouthwatering…. yummyyyyyyyy

    Comment by chandana — June 26, 2006 @ 10:03 am

  24. Dear Indira,

    Just now, finished preparing lemon rice and wow, though the recipe is very simple and know to everyone, the way you have presented is simply wonderful. And, also tried all steps from yr version, result, it came better than the regular ones!!!

    One tiny doubt-how come there is no ginger at all?? And, FYI, my SIL who is from Cuddapah use to add ground roasted gram with coconut at the end.

    Thanks, anyhow Indira a lot..


    Comment by Rama — November 14, 2006 @ 3:34 am

  25. Indira,
    I just made your lemon rice and it came out wonderful. We had a lovely dinner – all thanx to you.


    I am glad to hear that Seema. Thanks for taking time to share the happy moment.
    Best wishes,

    Comment by seema — July 19, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  26. Dear Indira,
    I love how clear and precise the directions are. if i am cooking for 15 people how do i handle the quantities-simply doubling or trebling sounds too easy! also, i am one of those Telegu people who never learnt to make andhra food and so am learning at the age of 39! thanks for your website!

    Comment by radhika — October 17, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

  27. Hello Indira,
    Wow !! What a site !!! I am going to try your recipes. Could you pl. send me the recipe of the green chillies stuffed with buttermilk ? It sounds very delicious. Thanks.

    Comment by deepti — December 19, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  28. Hi Indira,
    I tried your recipe last week, and it was a big hit. thanks a lot for posting this.
    I am going to publish a pic of this dish i made ,this on my blog today.

    Glad to read that you tried and liked this recipe Pooja. Thanks for taking time to let me know.
    Happy V-day for you guys.

    Comment by Pooja — February 13, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  29. Your recipe is wonderful, I realized that adding cashew improves the taste!

    Comment by Poornima — March 9, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  30. I’ve been going through some of the detailed recipes, well-written, with excellent photos.

    Pulihora is what brought me to this site. Not that I wanted to know how to make it, but becuase a colleague asked for it, and I thought I will provide a couple of online recipes.

    But seriously, ginger and onions in pulihora! sounds blasphemous. I have seen coconut added on rare occasions. But no vegetables, as far as I know. Of course, one can add anything one desires, but at some point it ceases to be called pulihora, doesn’t it?

    One online recipe listed ginger and cilantro in the ingredients. Why not buttermilk too, and then it would become daddhyOdanam (perugu+annam, or curd-rice)

    Coming back to pulihora, I have seen this being called yellow-rice, lemon-rice, tamarind-rice, … With the result that these just look and taste as just that – pasup rice, lemon juice plus rice, or tamarind plus rice.

    Is pulihora an Andhra dish?

    Comment by Krishna — May 5, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  31. Hi,
    This came out great and was a hit with my family ,thanks for sharing .
    Just To tell you I am going to link it in my next post .
    Hugs and smiles

    Comment by jaya — September 28, 2008 @ 5:52 am

  32. Dear Indira!

    I have been your fan for the past 2 years. Thank you for the wonderful receipes and photos. My mother use to scold me for not learing cooking before marriage. Now I am in UK and she came for 6 months here to stay with me. She was surprised and happy about my cooking and one of the reason is your receipes.Do you have any books of your own.if so where can I buy?Thank you once again for the wonderful receipes…


    Comment by Vinu — January 3, 2009 @ 5:40 am

  33. Awesome recipe. Tips on the amount of green chilli and lemon juice are very helpful.

    Comment by Souja — February 5, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  34. where are the mustard seeds?

    Comment by anuradha — April 8, 2009 @ 11:12 am

  35. I am making first time lemon rice and made them with your recipe and it was really yummy delicous, just so so good, that my hubby had asked me why haven’t I made them for all these years.
    Thankyou for the recipe.

    Happy to read that you and family enjoyed this recipe. Appreciate the feedback, Happy Cook.

    Comment by Happy Cook — May 24, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  36. Lovely! Thank you for this wonderful website. Seeing the snaps itself is like, my mouth is watering.:))

    Comment by sankari — June 8, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  37. Hi there!

    one small query if i use white vinegar instead of lime the taste suffers in any way?????

    Hope u reply


    Comment by farah — June 16, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  38. Hi Indira, I made this lemon rice today and came out well. Addition of vegetables made this more tastier. Thanks for the recipe.

    Comment by JhananiAmma — July 24, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  39. Great recipe. Also tastes great if you add some grated coconut at the end, as well as chopped cilantro.

    Comment by sandhya — August 18, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  40. […] Linda was inspired by Indira and I couldn’t resist. N usually makes a face when I pack lemon rice but even as I was making this rice, the entire house was filled with a wonderful aroma and he kept asking, “what’s cooking?”. For me, that is instant success. I didn’t say lemon rice or elumicham pazham sadam, instead I said, ” I am making Nimmakaya Pulihora” to make it sound royal. Lovely name isn’t it? […]

    Pingback by Ruchikacooks | Chitrannam- A flavorful rice — March 9, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  41. I was missing my mom food after coming overseas. And I wanted to desperately eat perfect Andhra meals and food. Then i got this blog and now i am more than happy that I can cook all the items of Andhra all by myself seeing your recipes. Thanks a lot. 🙂

    Comment by Dinesh — October 13, 2010 @ 6:29 am

  42. Oh Bless You Indira!
    I made the lemon rice last night and it turned out exactly like the ones I had eaten during my stay in Hyderabad. And I am NOT a good cook. Even my calorie-conscious husband couldn’t resist a second helping. All the while that I was cooking he’s like “Smells yummy, can’t wait to eat”.
    I just finished the last bowl. Yum!

    Comment by Amy — September 28, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  43. Looks so good! I’ve never eaten it, but I want to now.

    Comment by Valerie\ — March 6, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

  44. Hi Indira, Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I first ate Chitrannam at a wonderful south Indian restaurant in Oklahoma City, OK and fell in love. For years I tried it at other restaurants and none ever measured up until I made your recipe. Perfection! I have since made it for my Indian friend and her husband who had tried lemon rice at various restaurants and the homes of friends but had never been impressed UNTIL I made your recipe for them. Like me, they loved it and only recently my friend asked when I was going to make it again.

    I do have a question for you though. The title of the recipe says Lemon rice but the recipe itself calls for Limes. I have used yellow lemons in the past with great results. However, I am curious if you actually use green limes? I seem to have heard that lemons and limes are not referred to the same elsewhere as they are here in the United States. Would you please clarify for me which you use?

    Many thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    Comment by Sherri — April 4, 2016 @ 9:43 am

  45. […] Just as there are numerous varieties of dal, there are numerous uses across the whole menu: snack mixes, desserts, breakfast, as a element of crunch and flavor in dishes like lemon rice, and, of course, as the base of a range of soup-like or stew-like creations. […]

    Pingback by Slashfood D Day - D is for Dal • Slices of Blue Sky — November 25, 2016 @ 10:59 pm

  46. Nice information.

    Comment by web development company in Jaipur — March 9, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

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