If you are using freshly made rice, spread out on a tray or large dish to dry it out a bit. This will help keep grains separate.
In a small bowl stir together lemon juice, salt and turmeric.
Heat ghee or oil in a large sauce pan (kadhai/dutch oven) over medium-high heat and toast the nuts you are using, until they turn a slightly darker shade of brown. Set aside.
In the same pan, add mustard seeds until they crackle.
Add the cumin seeds and let toast for a few seconds.
If using the black lentils and chickpeas, add to the pan and sauté until golden brown.
Add curry leaves, if using, green chilies, ground chili, and ground coriander. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add rice and lemon juice mixture, toss gently so you don’t break the rice, and warm just until heated through. Remove from heat and let rice sit for 5 minutes so the flavors can permeate the rice. Don’t cook any longer than necessary, or your rice will get mushy.
Taste for salt, acid, red chili, and adjust seasonings to your taste.
Garnish: With reserved nuts. If you did not use curry leaves, you can sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Prep time assumes you’ve already made your rice.
Traditional recipes often call for black lentils (urad dal) and split chickpeas (chana dal).
I often double this recipe when entertaining, so I am sure to have enough left over for the next day.
Curry leaves are one of my favorite herbs, but if you can’t find them, garnish your Indian lemon rice with cilantro at the end.