South Indian Lemon Rice with Brown Rice

This lemon turmeric rice recipe combines the delicious flavors of the popular South Indian lemon rice with healthier brown rice and added vegetables.

South Indian lemon rice with brown rice in a white ceramic bowl.

About this recipe

South Indian lemon rice is a simple rice recipe made by mixing cooked white rice with lemon juice, turmeric and spices like chillies and ginger. In this healthier version, I have swapped white rice with brown rice and added veggies like carrots and soybeans for the extra crunch, nutrition and flavor. These ingredients go well with the authentic zesty flavor of the traditional lemon rice recipe. This is one of the easiest brown rice recipes seasoned with Indian flavors!

Bonus: Lemon rice is one of the staple lunchbox meals Indian moms love since it stays fresh for hours without the need to refrigerate. It can also be refrigerated or frozen to last longer.

Added bonus: This turmeric brown rice has added vegetables, which makes it a wholesome vegetarian meal, with protein from soybeans and fiber from carrots. You can customize it by adding boiled vegetables like cauliflower, beans, or peas.

Ingredient notes

Brown rice

I’ve used Jasmine brown rice here, but any brown rice would do. Read further to find out the foolproof method to cook any type of rice.

Spices and flavors

You need bold flavors to spice up brown rice. Turmeric, chillies and ginger along with lemon do the trick. But the secret ingredient here is actually the LEMON ZEST. There’s a burst of citrus flavor from lemon zest which makes this Indian lemon rice recipe simply irresistible!

Soybeans/edamame

Edamame beans are nothing but tender, immature soybeans in the pod. A great source of protein, (apart from iron, calcium, omega-3 fats, fiber and a host of minerals) especially for vegetarians and lactose intolerant people, soybeans are best consumed as a whole food rather than processed. For this recipe, I have used frozen edamame. You can also use dried soybeans, which have to be soaked overnight and pressure cooked.

If soybeans or edamame are not easily available or they’re not your favorite, they can be replaced with an equal quantity of green peas, fresh, frozen or dried. Use the same cooking instructions as for soybeans.

Vegetables

I’ve added grated carrots, but other vegetables like French beans, cauliflower, baby corn can also be used. Precook them (steam or boil) before adding.

Other ingredients would be oil, mustard seeds, cashews and curry leaves for garnishing.

ingredients for lemon turmeric rice.

How to make South Indian lemon rice- step by step

(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)

How to cook Brown Jasmine Rice

Soak the rice for about 30 minutes. If you’re cooking brown rice for the first time, it’s better to cook on a stovetop using a wide pot or pan. Boil about 5 to 6 cups of water for every cup of brown rice. The amount of water should be at least 5 times that of rice. Boil water and add the rice. Cook until you’re able to squeeze an individual grain with ease but not mushy.

For cooking the Jasmine brown rice in a rice cooker or instant pot, the quantity of water should be about 2½ to 3 cups for 1 cup of brown rice. (The exact quantity depends on the brand of rice you’re using.)

Drain the rice using a strainer. Transfer rice back to the pot and keep it closed for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread out the rice on a large tray or plate and let it cool. Now it is ready to be seasoned.

For more tips and detailed pictures on cooking brown rice, read the recipe for stir-fried red rice with Thai flavors.

How to season lemon turmeric rice

Boil edamame in water for 5 minutes. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cashews, chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Saute until browned and then add grated carrots and edamame. Stir for 5 minutes and turn off the flame. Add lemon juice, zest and brown rice and mix well. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes and serve!

Common questions about cooking brown rice

How long to soak brown rice?

To get nice fluffy brown rice soak it for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. It will soften up the grains and help speed up the cooking process, too. After cooking, keep the rice closed in the hot cooking pot for 5 to 10 minutes. The steam released will also help fluff up the rice.

How long does cooked brown rice last?

Cooked brown rice stays fresh for about 3 hours without refrigeration (consume it within 3 hours, DO NOT refrigerate after 3 hours), 5 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. This turmeric brown rice with lemon can last for about 6 to 7 hours without refrigeration. The citrus juice and turmeric help keep the rice fresh for longer. That makes it ideal for packed lunches, picnics and potluck side dishes. Make sure that you use clean, dry containers and store them after the rice has completely cooled down.

Is brown rice hard to digest?

Due to its high fiber content, brown rice can be hard to digest for some of us who are not used to high-fiber food. Soaking brown rice before cooking helps digestion. Another way to improve the digestion of brown rice is to use healing spices like turmeric and ginger (and lemon, too) that make it easy on the stomach, to season brown rice. (As we have used in this recipe.)

closeup view of lemon turmeric rice with brown rice in a white bowl.

What to pair turmeric brown rice with

This lemon turmeric rice is so versatile, it can be eaten as a main vegan or vegetarian dish with a salad like Indian chickpea salad or lentil salad with turmeric.

For a quick and easy dinner, pair this turmeric brown rice with a protein like tandoori chicken, roasted chicken drumsticks. Seafood options would be mackerel fish cakes or baked salmon kabobs.

How to make brown rice taste good

If you want to replace white rice with brown rice in your favorite rice recipes, follow these simple steps. Once you know the brown rice to water ratio and how to cook brown rice as above, you can make the best brown rice recipes:

  • Add more seasoning for brown rice. (About 25% more than when you use white rice.)
  • Add more vegetables and herbs than you would for white rice.
  • After cooking and seasoning the brown rice, keep it closed and allow it to sit for a minimum of about 10 minutes so that the flavors are absorbed by the brown rice.
  • If you are cooking just plain brown rice to eat with curry, do this: after cooking and straining, transfer the rice back to the pot and keep it closed for about 10 minutes. This will allow the rice to steam and get fluffy in the residual heat. If you are using rice cooker or instant pot, do the same thing: allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

More rice recipes

Looking for more easy recipes with brown rice and red rice? Check out these:

South Indian lemon rice with brown rice in a ceramic bowl.

South Indian Lemon Rice Recipe with Brown Rice

This lemon turmeric rice recipe combines the delicious flavors of the popular South Indian lemon rice with healthier brown rice and added vegetables.
Author: Sheeba
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course dinner, LUNCH, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 3 people
Calories 433 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 cups water or as per package instructions.
  • 1/4 cup soya beans or edamame frozen or dried
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 10 cashews
  • 2 green chilies minced
  • 1 inch ginger minced
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or as needed

Instructions
 

How to cook brown rice

  • Cook the brown rice in the rice cooker or instant pot with 3 cups of water. If you're cooking on stove-top, boil 5 cups of water in a wide pot, add the rice and cook until done. The rice should be cooked just right: not mushy and the individual grains should be intact.
  • Drain the rice using a strainer. Transfer back to the pot and keep it closed for 5 minutes. Spread out the rice on a large tray and let it cool.

How to cook soybeans

  • Boil the frozen soya beans (edamame) in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. If using dried soybeans, soak them overnight and cook in a pressure cooker. Cook until high pressure is reached, then at low pressure for 10 minutes.

How to season brown rice

  • Heat oil in a pan or wok, add mustard. After it splutters add curry leaves, cashews, minced green chilies and ginger, carrot and turmeric powder in the same order.
  • Add the cooked soybeans and salt. Saute for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and the cooked brown rice and mix well.
  • If needed, add more lemon juice or salt according to individual taste. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Cooking the brown rice: The time and water required to cook the rice might vary depending on the brand and the equipment to cook. The measurements specified here are for Indian brown rice using electric rice cooker.
  • If you’re new to brown rice, the most fool-proof way to cook is the stove-top method as mentioned in the instructions above.
  • If you’re not a great fan of soybeans, you can replace them with green peas, fresh, frozen or dried. Cooking method is the same.
  • Don’t forget the lemon zest for that amazingly unique flavor.
 
South Indian Lemon Rice with Brown Rice

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5 thoughts on “South Indian Lemon Rice with Brown Rice”

    1. The traditional recipe uses curry leaves, but you can leave it out, with a slight change in flavor. The closest substitute would be cilantro or coriander leaves, which can be added at the end of cooking, after removing from heat.

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