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DIY, Food, home cooked food, soul food

When given lemons…

“When life gives you lemons, take it. don’t waste food”
giselle marquez

That’s what I did. To start at the very beginning, it was a Saturday afternoon and I had got it in my head to cook up a storm for someone. I looked in my fridge, standing and pondering upon what would go in my pots and pans, when all of a sudden, a bunch of lemons winked at me. I blinked, there they were, winking again. I saw thought bubbles above their yellowy heads “Use Me” they said. I nodded at them and looked around my kitchen, to see if I could find them something or someone to marry them with. My box of dates did a little jump and I had my menu set. 

Warning: Long post ahead – read at leisure, jump to portions if short on time 😉

Lemon rice, a dash of date and tamarind chutney with a serving of spiced eggs.

Ingredients for Lemon rice:

Rice:                  400g

Peanuts:            2 handfuls

Cashew:            5-10 (split into halves and diced for good measure)

Lemons:            5

Curry leaves:    15

Mustard seeds: A tsp and half (1.5 tsp)

Green chilies:   5 (chopped – can be increased or decreased for spiciness accordingly – though I recommend keeping 3 minimum)

Dry red chilies: 3 (each broken into two)

Vegetable oil:   3 Tbsp

Dry coconut:     1 tsp (One tsp)

Salt:                  To taste

Coriander:         1 Tbsp (chopped)

Mint:                   8-10 leaves (garnish) 


  1. Cook white rice separately with 1 tbsp of oil and salt to taste.
  2. Dry roast peanuts, and cashew. Keep separate.
  3. Squeeze the juice out of all the lemons, strain the seeds from the liquid, add salt to taste and keep aside.
  4. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a saucepan on medium flame. Crackle mustard, curry leaves, chopped green chilies, dry red chilies. Be careful you don’t burn the ingredients during the tempering process.
  5. Heat the last tablespoon of oil in a wok, add the white rice, the tempered mixture (see step 4), the roasted peanuts, cashew and the coconut. 
  6. Mix everything well.
  7. Mix in the salty lemon juice to the above and stir everything well.
  8. Garnish with chopped coriander and mint
  9. Voila! The lemon rice is ready

I used the ‘Eureka’ lemon variety, commonly found in the supermarket unlike the ‘Meyer’ lemons. The latter are commonly found in South India.

You can see the amount of peanuts and cashew I’ve used here below:

roasted peanuts and cashew

roasted peanuts and cashew

And this is what the rice looks like at serving:

Lemon rice - enjoy!

Lemon rice – enjoy!

Lemon rice - Dig right in!

Now for the date and tamarind chutney. The tamarind chutney is normally made with jaggery / sugar, however I made a variation with dates as they’re found in abundance here as well as being extra sweet.

Ingredients for the chutney:

Dates:               500 g

Tamarind:         300 g (soak in a small cup of water)

Salt to taste

Note:               Can add red chilly powder just for a hint of heat. 2 pinches should do it.


  1. De-seed the dates and chop them. If they are seedless, chop them up and and proceed to the next step
  2. Boil the chopped dates with a bit of water.
  3. While the dates are being boiled / softened; squeeze the tamarind into the cup of water and strain it. (Don’t throw the used tamarind away!)
  4. Add the strained tamarind water to the boiling pot of dates
  5. Let it boil some more till it all mingles together and becomes a pulpy mass
  6. You can add a dash of chilly powder. I tried 2 pinches. Here’s where you can make your own spicy variations – oregano / green chillies paste (half a tsp), black peppers ground, its actually anything you fancy.
  7. Add salt to taste (not too much!)
  8. Puree the mass after it cools.
  9. And that’s it, strain it and store in a cool dry place.

I haven’t tried chilly flakes or oregano but I’m guessing in minute quantities the results ought to be mouthwatering. I’d recommend not too much spice, you’d want the original flavor of the chutney through. Especially the sweetness of the dates and the sourness of the tamarind.

If you like it just the way it is – off the stove, pulpy and chewy, you don’t have to follow steps 8 and 9. 

NB: You can put the ‘used’ tamarind above in any future curries or gravies that require a bit of a tangy flavor to them. Just make sure you dry it out first and store in an airtight container.

I’m posting the pics here so you can take a look at what the chutney is supposed to look step by step:

De-seed the dates

De-seed the dates

Boil 'em

Boil ’em

Soak the tamarind

Soak the tamarind

Closer look

A closer look

All of it cooking away!

All of it cooking away!

Tamarind and dates cooking merrily away!

Tamarind and dates cooking merrily away!

And Voila:

The chutney

The chutney

Now for the eggs. 


Eggs     –   6

Spices   – Turmeric, salt, red chilly powder (1 tsps each) [can add more depending on taste and spiciness]

Oil         – 2.5 Tbsp


  1. Boil the eggs. Once hard-boiled, shell them after they’re cooler.
  2. Halve the eggs carefully without removing or spoiling the hard yolks, and keep the eggs aside.
  3. In a shallow saucepan, heat oil on medium flame, add the spices and quickly blend well into the rapidly heating oil.
  4. Lay the egg halves gently – yolk face down, on to the oil spice mixture on the stove and let the spices seep in.
  5. Don’t let them burn or be too long on one side.
  6. Carefully without disturbing the yolk turn the egg halves one by one on their bottoms to coat them completely in the spices, all the while browning them.
  7. Garnish with cilantro / parsley and mint if you choose

And the result should be an awesome this:

Lovely spiced eggs

Lovely spiced eggs

That’s one of my menus for soul food.

What’s yours?




About Sanaa Tarneem

The best thing about being a woman, is to have a little fun... Straightforward, forthright, simple at heart, a foodie, an explorer, extremely adaptable to life!...a lawyer, a closet writer, a good friend, a not-so-secret agony aunt...the list could go on, but the only way is to find out is by reading...


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