My microwave lemon rice recipe is incredibly quick and easy to make and comes together in about 20 minutes! It tangy & fluffy and has an amazing texture from the spices and fresh herbs. It is the perfect side to make along with any Indian curry and works really well for meal prep too!
Flavors in this lemon rice
Lemon rice is a common rice dish made in south India, usually whipped up quickly using leftover rice. My version eliminates the step of making rice beforehand to make this recipe even quicker and simpler.
This lemon rice recipe has a delicate and zingy lemon flavor running through it. I love using whole spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies along with yellow and white lentils and cashews that are fried until crunchy and golden brown in this recipe.
I also flavor this lemon rice with ginger, spicy green chilies, cilantro and curry leaves. These ingredients add so much flavor and aroma to this lemon rice that it doesn't even need a side and can be eaten by itself!
Substitutions/replacements in this recipe
Here are a few ways that you can customize this easy lemon rice recipe if you’d like:
- Make it spicier: If you would like to make the rice more spicy, add more minced Thai chilies or jalapenos. I wouldn't add any chili powder as it will change the color of the dish to orange.
- Make it healthier: You can substitute quinoa instead of the rice in this recipe and still follow the exact same instructions to make lemon quinoa instead!
- Add vegetables: Feel free to add in vegetable (like green peas, sweet corn, chopped carrots etc.) when you add in the rice and water in the beginning. You can use any combination of veggies in this recipe.
- Add in peanuts: Traditionally, peanuts are used in lemon rice recipes. Feel free to include peanuts in this recipe or replace the cashews with peanuts.
- Add a protein: Feel free to mix in protein filled foods like cooked chickpeas after the rice is done, for an added boost of protein.
Storage and reheating instructions
This easy lemon rice can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, which makes it perfect for meal prep. Portion it into glass storage containers and store it in the refrigerator to make it easy to reheat in the microwave.
What to serve alongside this easy lemon rice?
This easy lemon rice is so versatile! It can be served alongside any Indian curry or stew, can form the base of a grain bowl, can be used in burrito bowls or can even be eaten by itself!
I absolutely love serving this easy lemon rice with my creamy sweet potato & chickpea coconut curry! The tanginess of this rice compliments the creamy curry perfectly and makes for a perfect meal.
I also like including an easy side salad since it pairs so well with this lemon rice. A simple salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumber & cilantro dressed with a fresh lime juice, salt & pepper will compliment this meal splendidly.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to use lemons in this recipe?
No, you can make the exact same recipe without the lemons too, it will still taste delicious and will become turmeric rice instead! You could also replace the lemons with Meyer lemons or limes in this recipe, if you prefer.
How long can I store this lemon rice?
This lemon rice can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, which makes it perfect for meal prep. Portion it into glass storage containers and store it in the refrigerator to make it easy to reheat in the microwave.
Will this recipe work in every microwave?
Every microwave is different and every rice type cooks differently. This recipe was tested multiple times in my microwave (1000 Watts) using basmati rice and it came out perfectly every time. You will need to adjust the amount of water and cooking time based on your microwave and rice.
Can I replace rice with something else?
You can substitute quinoa instead of the rice in this recipe and still follow the exact same instructions to make lemon quinoa instead. All the other instructions will remain the same.
I am allergic to nuts, what else can I use instead of cashews?
You can absolutely leave out the cashews or replace them with seeds (like pumpkin/sunflower) for added texture and crunch in this recipe.
More delicious recipes to try!
Easy microwave lemon rice
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- kosher salt
- 1 large lemon cut in half
For the seasoning
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- 2 dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon urad dal (skinned black gram lentils)
- 1 teaspoon chana dal (split yellow chickpeas)
- 15 cashews (or peanuts)
- 1 teaspoon ginger root finely chopped
- 2 spicy green chilies (Thai green peppers) finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- Rinse the rice in a colander under running water until the water runs clear.
- Now transfer the rice and water into a glass bowl along with some salt. Microwave the rice on high heat for 10 minutes. My microwave power is 1000 Watts, adjust the timing based on your microwave,
- While the rice is cooking, in a small frying pan heat the coconut oil on medium heat. When it gets hot add in the mustard seeds and let them pop. Now reduce the heat to medium low and add in the curry leaves, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, urad dal and cashews. Cook this mix for 1-2 minutes or until the cashews turn light brown.
- Now add in the finely chopped ginger and green chilies and cook them for 1-2 minutes. Finally, turn off the heat and add in the turmeric powder. Mix everything well together.
- After 10 minutes, carefully take out the rice bowl from the microwave using mitts and transfer the seasoning mix into the rice. Mix it well together. Now place the lemon halves (cut side up) on top of the rice and put it back in the microwave for another 6 minutes.
- When the rice is done cooking, carefully take it out of the microwave using mitts. Now, fish out the lemon halves and squeeze the lemon juice over the rice. ( use tongs to do this since the lemons will be very hot).
- Finally, add in the chopped cilantro leaves and carefully mix everything together until well combined.
- Serve this rice while it is still hot perhaps with my chickpea & sweet potato coconut curry!
- This recipe was tested multiple times in my microwave (1000 Watts) using basmati rice and it came out perfectly every time. You will need to adjust the amount of water and cooking time based on your microwave and type of rice.
- You can substitute quinoa instead of the rice in this recipe and still follow the exact same instructions to make lemon quinoa instead. All the other instructions will remain the same.
- If you're allergic to nuts, leave out the cashews or replace them with seeds (like pumpkin/sunflower) for added texture and crunch in this recipe.
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