Fragrant Lemon Rice


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or groundnut oil, or clarified butter
  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 or 3 shavings of a nutmeg
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 or 2 curry leaves – optional
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, cut in 2 or 3 pieces
  • piece of cinnamon
  • 350 g (12 oz) basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons each of toasted flaked almonds and sultanas
  • about 600 mls (1 pint) water
  • salt
  • grated zest and juice of a lemon
  • fresh coriander or mint – for garnish


Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan, and in it fry all the spices and leaves until fragrant. Stir in the rice, the lemon zest and juice, and then add the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover, and reduce to the lowest possible heat.

Leave for 15 minutes or so until the rice has absorbed the water. Remove the leaves and lemon grass. Fork in the nuts and sultanas, and heap the rice in a serving bowl. Decorate with fresh herbs, such as coriander.

To slice nutmeg, I use a truffle grater, or the slicing side of a grater. It can also be grated, and this is probably safer for the knuckles.