Chitrannam (Magical Rice)

Chitrannam (Magical Rice)

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  • 2 cups basmati rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice (2 to 3 lemons or limes)
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 to 4 dry red chiles (such as Arbol), split in half
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons channa daal (yellow split peas)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, skins removed
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated coconut


Place rice in a mixing bowl. Add lemon or lime juice and toss very lightly, taking care to ensure the rice grains are intact. Set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add mustard seeds and cover with a lid. When seeds have stopped popping, add red chiles. Wait until chiles turn a dark red and have released their heat into the oil. Add cumin seeds and channa daal. Lightly sauté the mixture until channa daal is a light amber color. Add turmeric, peanuts and green peas. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until peas have thawed, 2 to 4 minutes. Mix in cilantro.

Put peanut-pea mixture into the bowl with rice and add 2 teaspoons salt. Using a rubber spatula or clean hands, toss the rice and peanut-pea mixture until the yellow color is evenly distributed through the rice. Taste and add remaining salt, if desired. Garnish with freshly grated coconut.

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