This rice reminds me of summer not only because of its optimistic golden hue but also because my mom used to prepare it for our family on hot summer evenings when the thought of a heavy curry made the temperature feel even more oppressive. I was always requesting it, because I love its bright flavor and also because it transported me back to the Chennai station, where I could have wandered all day eating rice and chaat if only my parents would have let me. It’s easy to prepare and could be served as a main dish, as we used to enjoy it in our family, or as a base for a gravy or dal. There’s much more to it than lemon and rice due to its combination of smooth and crunchy textures and nutty, spicy, earthy flavors. It’s lovely with one of the chutney recipes this book and with hot Chapatis, which I enjoy using as a utensil to scoop the rice up into my mouth because forks can be so boring!
- In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal, and dried red chiles. Once the mustard seeds begin to pop, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium and add the cashews and peanuts. Sauté until the nuts are deep golden brown and the dals have slightly deepened in color, about 3 minutes.
- Add the ginger, serrano chiles, lemon zest, and sugar and sauté until the chiles are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the turmeric and sauté for an additional 1 minute. Add the rice and remove from the heat. Gently stir in the lemon juice and season with salt.
- Serve warm garnished with cilantro and, if desired, chutneys and hot chapatis
Reprinted with permission from Chaat by Maneet Chauhan and Jody Eddy copyright © 2020. Photographs by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.