Instant Pot Lemon Rice (Stovetop Recipe Included)

January 25, 2018 (Updated: September 9, 2019) By Aneesha |

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Lemon Rice! Fluffy grains of aromatic Basmati rice flavored with mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh lemon juice. Here’s an easy 30-minute Instant Pot and stovetop recipe for this flavorful vegan and gluten-free side dish.

Lemon rice flavored with mustard seeds and curry leaves, cooked in Instant Pot

Delicious 30-Minute Vegan + Gluten-Free Dish

Lemon Rice or Lemon Rice Pilaf is an extremely popular side-dish from southern India.  In this simple pressure cooker recipe, I infuse long grain basmati rice is infused with fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and earthy ginger. 

I stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice after cooking and that brings this whole dish to life. Using this Instant Pot Lemon Rice recipe, you can make this flavorful rice side dish in 30 minutes!

Instant Pot Lemon rice served in a black stone pot

Customize Your Lemon Rice Recipe

This recipe is so easy to customize based on taste and availability of ingredients. Here are a few ways I customize it:

  • I like to make this dish with long grain Basmati Rice, but it works just as well with Jasmine Rice
  • This recipe is traditionally made with split black gram lentils (urad), but sometimes I add other lentils for variety.
  • I enjoy the sweet & nutty flavor of cashews in this rice pilaf recipe, but you can make it nut-free by skipping them altogether. 
  • You can also substitute cashews with any other nut of your choice, like peanuts, almonds etc.
Ingredient List for Instant Pot Lemon Rice
Ingredients for making Lemon Rice in Instant Pot

What is a Substitute for Curry Leaves

Curry leaves add a great floral aroma and taste to Instant Pot Lemon Rice.  But, depending on where you live, curry leaves can be tricky to find.   

It took me years to find a close-enough taste match for curry leaves. I found a few, so feel free to substitute based on what’s most convenient for you. 

  • A 4-5 inch piece of lemongrass stalk, when sautéed, gives a very similar aroma and taste as curry leaves.  You can remove it before serving. 
  • If you cannot find curry leaves or lemongrass stalk, then add 3-4 lime skin peels to the pot.  Make sure that you only get the skin, not the white part.
Instant Pot Lemon Rice recipe by Spice Cravings

Why Make Lemon Rice in an Instant Pot

Ok, confession time guys… I have never owned a rice cooker!  Yup! I have always made rice on the stove-top using my mom’s recipe, or in the microwave, till I purchased an electric pressure cooker. 

When I bought my first Instant Pot , I experimented with cook-times and water-rice ratio, and was very skeptical about the results. I thought using a pressure cooker for rice was overkill!

But, Instant pot rice came out so pillowy soft and fluffy and that changed the way I cook rice forever.  I love how each kernel of rice is cooked perfectly and stays separated. 

Check out my detailed post on Cooking the Perfect Rice, where I discuss different textures and water ratio, with results.

If you’d like to learn more about the Instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories post.

How to Make Instant Pot Lemon Rice

  • Soak basmati rice 10 minutes for best results.  Rinse 2-3 times till the water runs clear.  Drain and keep aside. Do the same with split lentils. 
  • Turn Instant Pot on SAUTE mode (high). Wait till it reads “hot”, and add ghee (or oil), mustard seeds and split black gram lentils.
  • When the mustard seeds splutter and lentils look light-golden, add green chilies, curry leaves, cashews, ginger, salt, spices, and saute for 30 seconds. 
  • Add drained rice and water, stir and close the lid. Set Manual/Pressure cook for 6 minutes. Vent at Sealing position (DUO). If using ULTRA model, press START
  • Manually release pressure after 5 minutes (NPR 5). Open lid after pin has dropped and pot is completely depressurized.  Add lemon juice and fluff the rice with a fork, mixing in the lemon juice gently. 
A fork full of Indian Lemon Rice with cashews and curry leaves made in the Instant Pot
Fluffy and tasty Lemon Rice

Stovetop Lemon Rice Recipe

  • Rinse the white rice 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Drain and keep aside. Do the same with split lentils.
  • Heat a sauce pot on medium-high heat. Wait till it’s hot, and add ghee/butter or oil.
  • Add mustard seeds and split black gram lentils (urad).
  • When the mustard seeds splutter and lentils look light-golden, add green chilies, curry leaves, cashews, ginger, salt, spices, and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, open lid, fluff up the rice with a fork.
  • Add fresh lemon juice and mix well. That’s it!
Lemon rice flavored with mustard seeds and curry leaves, cooked in Instant Pot

Dishes that Pair Well with Lemon Rice

Lemon rice pairs very well with Indian food and middle-eastern or Greek entrees.  Here are some of my favorite pairings for this rice side dish.

Make a Meal: What to Serve with Lemon Rice

Here are some dishes that pair really well with this refreshing and flavorful side-dish:

Vegetarian Entree

Chicken, Meat & Fish Entree

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Indian flavored Instant Pot lemon rice

Instant Pot Lemon Rice

Fluffy grains of aromatic Basmati rice flavored with mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh lemon juice. Here's an easy 30-minute Instant Pot and stovetop recipe for this flavorful vegan and gluten-free side dish, Lemon Rice.
4.84 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
NPR: 5 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 239kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ghee (use olive oil for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds (or black)
  • 2 teaspoon Urad dal split split black gram lentils, rinsed and dried
  • 3 whole green chillies tops off (this way they release aroma, not spice)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cashews (optional)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (about 1/2 inch)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup Basmati rice Soaked 20 mins, rinsed 2-3 times
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoon water : this ratio works better for me than 1:1
  • 1 lemon juiced, to add after cooking

Instructions

  • Soak basmati rice 10 minutes for best results.  Rinse 2-3 times till the water runs clear.  Drain and keep aside. Do the same with split lentils. 
  • Turn Instant Pot on SAUTE mode (high). Wait till it reads “hot”, and add ghee, mustard seeds and split black gram lentils.
  • When the mustard seeds splutter and lentils look light-golden, add green chilies, curry leaves, cashews, ginger, salt, spices, and saute for 30 seconds. 
  • Add drained rice and water, stir and close the lid. Set Manual/Pressure cook for 6 minutes. Vent at Sealing position (DUO). If using ULTRA model, press START
  • Manually release pressure after 5 minutes (NPR 5). Open lid after pin has dropped and pot is completely depressurized.  Add lemon juice and fluff the rice with a fork, mixing in the lemon juice gently. 

Stovetop recipe

  • Rinse rice 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Drain and keep aside. Do the same with split lentils. Heat a sauce pot on medium-high heat. Wait till it’s hot, and add ghee/butter or oil. Add mustard seeds and split black gram lentils (urad). 
  • When the mustard seeds splutter and lentils look light-golden, add green chilies, curry leaves, cashews, ginger, salt, spices, and saute for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes. 
  • Turn off the heat, open lid, fluff up the rice with a fork. Add fresh lemon juice and mix well. That’s it!

Video

Notes

If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 68.4mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1.4mg
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Instant pot lemon rice, Lemon Rice
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HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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