South Indian Lime Rice

The sourness of lime tempered by fragrant spiced oil.

A portion of South Indian Lime Rice in the center of a teal colored plate.

Serious Eats / Prasanna Sankhe

Why This Recipe Works

  • Tempering the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile in oil creates a fragrant oil.
  • This dish is easily customizable with ingredients like toasted nuts or shredded coconut.

Lime rice is one of those quick recipes that turns a boring leftover into a delicious dinner with minimal effort. You can have this dish by itself or served with poppadums. It's light, hearty, and has a wonderful mix of tangy and crunchy elements.

Lime rice is originally South Indian, but it has found its way into most homes across the country. The tempering of the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chile impart a mild spiciness that compliments the sourness of the lime quite well. If you love tang, you could increase the amount of lime juice a tad. If you want to dress it up a little more, roasted cashew nuts can be tossed in during the tempering. And, if you have a weakness for coconut, you can add unsweetened coconut shreds as a garnish. It's the fact that it's so easy to customize that makes it one of my favorite meals.

October 2013

Recipe Details

South Indian Lime Rice

Prep 0 mins
Cook 10 mins
Active 10 mins
Total 10 mins
Serves 2 to 3 servings

The sourness of lime tempered by fragrant spiced oil.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22ml) vegetable oil or ghee

  • 2 fresh Serrano chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • 1 teaspoon (3g) black mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon (4g) de-husked black lentils (urad dal)

  • 1 teaspoon (4g) split yellow gram (chana dal)

  • 2 tablespoons (20g) roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

  • 8 curry leaves

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37ml) lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice (7 ounces; 200g)

  • 1 teaspoon (4g) sugar, optional

  • 1 recipe poppadom

  • Indian pickles


  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil or ghee over medium heat until shimmering. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mustard seeds and continue to cook, stirring, until seeds pop.

  2. In quick succession, add lentils, yellow gram, and peanuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until the lentils turn light brown, about 3 minutes. Add curry leaves and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add turmeric powder, stir for a few seconds, then add lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Off-heat, add rice and fold gently to keep rice intact until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in sugar, if using.

  3. Serve hot with poppadom and Indian pickles.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
330 Calories
12g Fat
50g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 330
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 552mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 7mg 35%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 503mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)