beautifully coloured elumichai sadham/lemon rice
Elumichai Sadham (pronounced saadham) is an easy to prepare meal, flavoured with juice of lemon.. it is a delicacy made especially during those summer days of scorching sun.
Elumichai is the shortened version of Elumicham pazham which means ripened lemon in tamil; and saadham is rice. Elumicham kaai – elumichangaai is raw lemon and is used in making pickles . Originally, Choru or Soru is the tamil word for cooked rice. The origin of the word ‘saadham’ which is used commonly for cooked rice is not very clear.
Elumichai sadham (lemon rice), Puli sadham (tamarind rice), Thengai sadham (coconut rice) or Thayir sadham (curd rice) – all are called kalandha sadham, kalavai sadham or coloquially viragina sadham – translated as mixed rice or in general variety rice.
Lemon rice on sunny days, Tamarind rice on rainy days, Coconut rice on special days and Curd rice always to end the meal… and that’s not all! Ellu sadham (sesame rice), Nellikkai sadham (gooseberry rice), Paruppu sadham (lentil rice) and many more come under speciality variety rices.
Among the Mixed Rices, lemon rice, tamarind rice and curd rice are also picnic meals – that can remain fresh and good for a couple of days – even without refrigeration. When we use to travel in train to places like Delhi which needs 28 hours of travel time from Chennai, idly (see steamed-rice-cakes/) and varutha milagai thuvayal (see roasted-chilly-coconut-chutney/) for breakfast and dinner, and lemon rice or tamarind rice with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/)and curd rice (see curd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/) for lunch used to be the packed food. These are such comfort foods when hunger never seems to stop during train journeys!
Variety rices can also be prepared from left over rice and yet the end product tastes fresh and flavourful. That is why, these can also be a lazy day’s brunch made with previous day’s left over rice and chips to go with it!
Now to Elumichai Sadham…
Cooked rice flavoured with juice of lemon, coloured with turmeric powder for the yellow colour of lemon, combined with many more ingredients to enhance the tingy tangy taste of lemon…. lemon rice is simply and completely lemony!
A small tip to squeeze out juice easily and completely –
On any convenient hard surface like a kitchen slab or a chopping board, roll lemon with palm and make it soft.
Now, cut the lemon into two halves and squeeze out juice which is a lot more easier affair.
Ingredients (serves approximately 4)
- cooked rice – 4 cups
- oil – 4 tsp
- kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- ulundhamparuppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
- kadalai paruppu/split bengal gram – 3 tsp
- nilakkadalai/groundnut (roasted and unsalted)- 3 tsp
- pachai milagai/green chillies – 2 no.s
- kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
- grated ginger – 1 tsp
- turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- juice of one large lemon
- salt – as per taste
- asafoetida powder – 1/2 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Cooked hot rice can easily become mashed. For lemon rice, we need rice in separate grains. Hence, cook rice, spread in a plate and pour two tsp oil and leave to cool; This helps rice to stay with separate grains
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel; Add mustard seeds and when they splutter add dehusked black gram and split bengal gram
- Keep the stove in medium heat
- When black gram and bengal gram turn golden brown, add grated ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and turmeric powder and fry
- Lastly add asafoetida powder, salt and roasted unsalted groundnuts and fry
- When salt and turmeric powder is mixed well with all the other ingredients, simmer stove and add the rice which was left to cool and mix
- When the rice is mixed well, switch off stove and add the squeezed and filtered lemon juice to the rice mixture
- Toss well till the juice of lemon is mixed evenly with rice.
- Serve with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/) or any dry vegetable curry and appalam (papad) or chips.
spread cooked rice and add oil to separate grains
all ingredients put together in hot pan
ready to serve!
- Pachirisi/Raw Rice is always used in mixed/variety rices… mainly because par-boiled rice is fatter and sometimes has a distinct taste
- Be sure rice grains are separated and not mashed when cooked
- Nallennai-Gingelly Oil is the preferred oil, which gives the typical flavour of mixed rice… if not available, other cooking oil can also be used
- When freshly cooked rice is used, cool on plate; when left over rice is used from fridge, directly add to the hot mixture on stove and then mix lemon juice
- Green chillies can be substituted with red chillies or both can be used for added flavour
- Add roasted groundnuts in the end as per procedure… if groundnut is added with black and bengal gram it might get burnt easily
- Quantity of lemon juice can be altered according to taste preference
- Garnish with coriander leaves.