lemon peelThis is a play on a traditional South Indian dish: lemon rice. I’ve always been a fan of western, seasoned rice dishes. I think that the fundamental difference between the way westerners eat rice and the way Indians do, lies in its purpose. We often use plain white rice as a vehicle for curries and sauces, whereas seasoned rice dishes can stand on their own. I like the idea of cooking everything at once: the rice, the seasonings, and the herbs. Here is a recipe for a VERY flavorful rice dish that is strong enough to hold its own.


1 cup white Basmati rice

2 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup plain cashew nuts

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

2 jalapeno peppers (minced)

2 large cloves garlic (minced)

1/2 large white or yellow onion (chopped)

1  teaspoon cumin seeds

2  teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (for yellow coloring)

1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)


Rinse rice well and set aside. In a cooking pot, toast the cashew nuts along with the cumin seeds on medium heat, until the nuts are fragrant and light brown in color. Then, add two to three tablespoons of oil and toss. Add  onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Then fry the garlic, lemon zest, and jalapeno peppers for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the rice and toast for another 1-2 minutes. Once the rice is toasted, add cooking liquid and increase heat to bring it to a boil. Once liquid is boiling, reduce temperature to low, add salt, butter, and turmeric for coloring, stir and cover. Let rice simmer until all of the cooking liquid has evaporated and rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, garnish with cilantro, and serve.