Nimmakayannam (lemon rice)

It is strange how this has become an all time favourite – so many people ask for it –Lyndsey does, all the time if there is a choice, Iris does now… having forgotten what it was called and suddenly re-discovering it and its name in August when she was over with her parents and the new baby. It is so very easy to make. And yet, when I told Sherry and Chitti about that lovely day on the Thames on Paul and Mary’s barge, and that I’d taken nimmakayannam – they made a face! Couldn’t have been less excited.

Urad dal (minapu pappu)/ white dal

Chana dal (chenige pappu)/ split peas

Jeera (jilkara)/ (mustard sees)

Rai (aavaalu)/ cumin

Lemons or limes (several, depending on how much rice) or even bottled lemon concentrate

Karipattha (Karyapak) / (curry leaves)

Sunflower oil

Fresh coriander

Fresh root ginger

Fresh green chillies


Khaju (Cashew nuts) (optional)


You would normally use left over rice for this dish. But assuming you haven’t got any, put on some rice to cook while you prepare the seasoning. Let’s say one mug (with two mugs of water, don’t let the rice go mushy) and don’t forget to add some salt to the rice.

Now prepare the seasoning stuff: chop up about an inch of ginger very fine, slit two green chillies but leave them whole, get a handful of curry leaves ready, tear some coriander leaves.

Put large kadai on the fire; when it’s dry put some sunflower oil in it (2 to 3 tablespoons). When the oil is hot (but not smoking) put in 1 and a half teaspoons of cumin seeds, and one and a half teaspoons of mustard seeds and listen to them crackle (to check whether the oil is hot enough drop in a single cumin seed and see if it sizzles and crackles immediately; if not, wait a bit. If the oil isn’t hot enough the cumin seeds become a bit soggy and don’t crackle). Then quickly add a teaspoon of split peas and a teaspoon of urad dal (white lentils). Don’t let all of these go dark brown – it will probably take no more than 30 seconds to get them popping. Then add a handful of curry leaves, and step back before they spit all over you; then put in the green chillies whole, the ginger, and coriander leaves. Give it all about a couple of minutes on quite a high heat, then add some salt (one and a half teaspoons?) and about half a teaspoon of turmeric. Turn off the fire and wait for it to cool down. When cool, add some lemon juice (about a quarter of a small bottle). In the meantime, your rice has cooked, so ideally spill the rice out onto a tray to cool down so it doesn’t become sticky (I don’t often bother with this). When cool, add the rice to the seasoning in the wok and mix gently with a wooden spoon – don’t let the rice grains break up, and don’t let it go squishy. And there you are!