Mrs Bailey’s Lemon Rice
(or you can do as I do these days, and make Mrs Bailey’s Lemon Rice Without The Lemon…)
In the interests of full disclosure, I have taken to making this lemon rice without the actual y’know lemon, just because I always used to forget to add the lemon*, and as it turned out m’wife prefers it that way. For years I used to call it “Mrs Bailey’s Lemon-Rice-Without-The-Lemon”, till someone suggested that I should perhaps just call it “Karen’s Rice”, Karen being the actual y’know name of m’wife. So I do that now. But here’s Mrs B’s original, preserved for her posterity.
250g (dry weight) basmati rice
1 heaped teaspoon black mustardseeds
A large pinch of asafoetida
1 teaspoon turmeric
Zest and juice of a lemon
Cook the rice according to your own temperament and practice. (This is a way of noting that many people have faith in a formula; many more will use a rice cooker. Me, I boil in lots of salted water until done, as Mrs B has taught generations of schoolgirls to do.)
Spread the cooked rice out on a baking tray to cool and dry.
Heat a wok or large skillet. Once it’s hot, add a splash of oil, and then the mustardseeds. Once they start to pop, cover the pan until they’re done popping; then add the asafoetida (be not afeared: its legend is more dramatic than the stuff itself), the turmeric and the lemon zest. One quick shake to mix everything together, and add the rice. Toss all together until the rice is entirely hot and quite yellow. Squeeze the lemon over, toss again and serve.
Serve with anything Indian — or of course experiment more broadly. Wholly up to you, as ever.
- To nobody’s great surprise, I forgot to add the lemon in the first draft of this recipe, too. Just left it out. Y’all would have been saying “How is this ’lemon rice’? Where’s the lemon…?”
You can find more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes — including plenty of Indian dishes — here: