Instant Pot Lemon Rice

Indian flavored Instant Pot lemon rice

Lemon Rice or Lemon Rice Pilaf is an extremely popular side from southern India.  In this simple preparation, long grain basmati rice is infused with fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and spicy 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 under 30 minutes!

Instant Pot Lemon rice served in a black stone pot

Customize Your Lemon Rice

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

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

Using the Instant Pot for Lemon Rice

I must tell you guys something – I’ve never owned a rice cooker in my life!  Yup! I’ve always made rice on the stove or in my stovetop pressure cooker, using my mom’s recipe.  But when I bought my first Instant Pot, I experimented with cook-times and water-rice ratios, and finally found my perfect match!  Rice comes out so pillowy soft and fluffy.  I love how each kernel of rice is cooked perfectly and stays separated.  So, slowly, I am adapting all my rice recipes to the Instant Pot.

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

Fluffy rice, straight from the Instant Pot

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.

Vegetarian Pairings

Kadai Paneer
Soft and creamy paneer sauted with onions, peppers and chilies, this is the recipe for Kadai paneer
Paneer Makhani
Instant pot paneer butter masala or paneer makhani is vegetarian variation of Butter Chicken. Start with paneer, Indian cottage cheese, and simmer it in tomato puree, season with toasted and ground garam masala and finished with a touch of heavy cream #cooking #food #recipe #recipes #foodphotography #foodblogger #yummy #delicious #foodie
Green Beans & Carrot
Green Beans and Carrot instant pot or stir fry by Spice Cravings. Crisp green beans and carrots sautéed with mustard seeds and coconut flakes, and seasoned with salt, coriander and cayenne. This super simple and amazingly easy vegetable side-dish is a great accompaniment to many entrée. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty
Palak PaneerPalak Paneer is a popular North Indian Punjabi curry made by cooking soft paneer (Indian cottage cheese), in a healthy and tasty spinach gravy.  By Spice Cravings #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian #curry

Chicken, Meat & Fish Pairings

Chicken & Veggie Skewers
Chicken Skewers and Vegetables on Lemon Rice made in instant pot by Spice Cravings. Chicken and Vegetable skewers are a good combo of protein and vegetables. Chicken is cooked in an instant pot & served with a side of saffron rice. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty
Seekh Kebab
Chicken Seekh Kebab by Spice Cravings. Chicken Seekh Kebab is must have appetizer with Indian meals.  These kebabs are skewered minced chicken seasoned with warm spices, grilled to perfection. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian
Salmon Tikki
Salmon Tikki, Salmon cakes- Pan grilled by Spice Cravings. I flavor the salmon in this healthy salmon cake recipe with warm Indian spices, lime, & combine with carrots, corn & spinach, to add a hint of sweetness. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian
Fish Coconut Curry
Fish Coconut Curry by Spice Cravings is a light fish prepared in a coconut milk broth with aromatics and tons of curry leaves, served over a mountain of steamed white rice. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #curry #indian 

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Indian flavored Instant Pot lemon rice
Instant Pot Lemon Rice
Prep Time
6 mins
Cook Time
16 mins
Resting
5 mins
Total Time
22 mins
 

Instant Pot Lemon Rice, fluffy grains of aromatic Basmati rice, flavored with mustard seeds and fresh lemon juice. This satisfying side pairs well with Indian, middle-eastern or Greek entrees. 

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: instant pot, Lemon Rice
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 239 kcal
Author: Spice Cravings
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon ghee or butter or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 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)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 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
  1. Soak basmati rice 20 minutes for best results.  Rinse 2-3 times till the water runs clear.  Drain and keep aside. Do the same with split lentils. 
  2. Turn Instant Pot on SAUTE mode (high). Wait till it reads "hot", and add ghee, mustard seeds and split black gram lentils.

  3. When the mustard seeds splutter and lentils look light-golden, add green chilies, curry leaves, cashews, ginger, salt, spices, and saute for 30 seconds. 

  4. 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

  5. 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. 

Stove-top recipe
  1. 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). 

  2. 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. 

  3. Turn off the heat, open lid, fluff up the rice with a fork. Add fresh lemon juice and mix well. That’s it!

Recipe Video

Recipe 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 Facts
Instant Pot Lemon Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 239 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 411mg 17%
Potassium 123mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 45g 15%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 2g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 1.9%
Vitamin C 82.9%
Calcium 3%
Iron 7.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Instant pot Lemon Rice by Spice Cravings. Fluffy grains of aromatic Basmati rice, flavored with mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh lemon juice. This satisfying side pairs great with Indian, middle-eastern or Greek entrees.  #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #delicious #indian #rice #indiancuisine #vegetarian #vegetarianrecipes #glutenfree #lemon

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Ken
    March 18, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Aneesha – this recipe looks great, and I will try it for sure. Maybe some peanuts instead of or in addition to the channa dal, and maybe some curry leaves since I just got my hands one some this week.

    one question – your instructions never specify when to use the ghee. I am assuming the dal and mustard seeds get sautéed in it. Can you confirm? Thanks.

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      March 18, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Hi Ken, good catch- thanks for pointing that out. I’ve updated the recipe. Yes, the mustard and dal is sautéed in ghee. I often add cashews to this dish, so yes peanuts would be great. Curry leaves would go really well in here too, you can add them with the mustard seeds. Hope you enjoy this dish. Would love to hear how you liked it!

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