I’m a huge fan of any recipe where the end result far outweighs the effort of making it. Lemon rice is one of those dishes. The sweet, smoky shallot, lemon, and peanut mixture can easily be knocked up while you wait for the rice to cook.

I like to eat it by itself or with a little tomato rasam for a simple meal. If you’re serving it as part of a bigger spread, it’s great with sambhar, or Keralan vegetable istoo, and mighty nice with a fish curry too.

Serves 4 as a side

1½ cups basmati rice
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
3 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, preferably red-skinned
2 Indian green chiles, slit lengthways
4 banana shallots or other large shallots, halved and finely sliced
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1¼ level teaspoons salt

Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water. When the water runs clear, leave to soak in cold water for 20 minutes, or in warm water for 10 minutes if you can’t wait that long. Drain the rice and transfer to a deep saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a fast simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender and not chalky. Drain, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to steam for 5 minutes, until lovely and fluffy.

Put the oil into a large frying pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the curry leaves, peanuts, and green chiles. Stir-fry for a minute or two, then add the shallots.

Cook the shallots for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are soft, caramelized, and sweet. Turn the heat down low, add the turmeric, lemon juice, and salt, stir to mix, then add the rice. Fold through until it’s well mixed, and serve.