Millet Lemon Rice | Samai Chitranna

South Indian style Lemon Rice made with little millets or samai.

Indian style lemon rice made with little millets

I've newly discovered my love for millet - those ancient grains.

Off late I have been trying to eat healthier at night. My best friend lost a lot of weight by just avoiding eating rice at night, and I am inspired. I decided to give it a try. Although I'm not much of a rice person, there are nights when all I want is some rice and curry for dinner, you know, comfort food. Especially when I've been stressed out at work and the night is unusually chilly, which it kinda is with the monsoons setting in. In my bid to avoid rice, I've found a best friend in millet. 

Millet are the best replacement for rice, they taste like rice and they cook like rice. They just are smaller in size, more like broken rice. And right now, they are a rage.

Indian style lemon rice made with little millets

Indian style lemon rice made with little millets

With an entire society reeling with obesity and health issues, everyone is trying to eat healthy, organic, seasonal and local. And millet have gained a large following thanks to that. They are also very nutritious and full of fiber. There are several varieties of millet available with Foxtail millet and Little millet being the closest to rice (according to me). They can also easily replace Quinoa in a recipe, they are much cheaper than quinoa, and close to its nutritional value. Millets are also gluten free. You can read more about millet here.

Now, to my recipe - Millet Lemon Rice. Lemon rice is a very common and popular way to use leftover rice in South India. I have replaced the rice with little millet in my recipe. Just like the regular Lemon Rice is best made with a day old rice, millet lemon rice is best made with cooled cooked millet, preferably a day old. I used half day old millet and it turned out perfect. To cook millet either follow the directions on the packet or cook it the same way you would cook rice. I cooked mine in the pressure cooker, you can cook it in a pan on the stove top or in a rice cooker. 

While tempering the lemon rice, you can add peanuts or cashew nuts to add crunch to the dish. You can also skip the onions and capsicum and just make it plain. 

Millet Lemon Rice can be served as breakfast or meal. It is easy to carry in a lunch box. It can be accompanied with Indian Pickle, Raita or crispy fried papads.

Indian style lemon rice made with little millets

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Millet Lemon Rice

Indian style lemon rice made with little milletsLittle millets or Samai are cooked and tossed in a tempering of mustard seeds, lentils, curry leaves, turmeric powder and lime juice. This is the perfect way to use left over millets.

Recipe Type:  Main
Cuisine:            Indian
Prep Time:     30 minutes
Cook time:     40 minutes
Total time:     70 minutes
Yield:                Serves 2


0.75 cup uncooked Little Millet or 3 cups cooked Little Millet
1.5 cup Water
3 tsp Oil
1 Onion
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
0.25 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
1 Tbsp Chana Dal (Optional)
8-10 Curry leaves
0.5 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Lime
0.5 tsp Sugar
0.5 Capsicum
Salt to taste


1. If using uncooked millets, soak them in water for 30-45 minutes. You can soak them overnight as well.
2. Drain out the water and pressure cook with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt until done (2-3 whistles). If you don't have a pressure cooker, just cook it the same way you cook rice.
3. Fluff it with a fork and keep aside to cool. Lemon rice works best with a day old millet, so you can prep this a day in advance.
4. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
5. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the chana dal. Allow it to brown slightly.
6. Add the curry leaves and chopped green chillies.
7. Add finely chopped onion. Saute until the onions are browned.
8. Now add roughly chopped capsicum and saute for 3-4 minutes. You can add Cashews or peanuts too.
9. Add the turmeric powder, salt and juice of half lime. Mix well.
10. Add the millet and mix well.
11. Now as per taste, add in more lime juice, sugar and salt.
12. Garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.
13. Serve hot with raita.

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