FRUGAL RECIPES: pilau rice

Monday, 30 June 2014
Five minutes after I'm through the door, the smell of gently frying onions and Indian spices wafts through the flat. Ten minutes later, I'm breathing in lavender shampoo and then wrapping myself in a big fluffy towel. And then, ten minutes after that, I'm sitting down to one of my favourite suppers, a big hearty bowl in my lap, catching up on the day with my boyfriend and thinking about soft sheets and an early night.

This supper is an adaptation of one of my favourite ever easy suppers, BBC Good Food's one-pan prawn pilau. You have to make that recipe - it will change your life! But when it's getting to the penny-pinching last few days of the month, I like making this simple version - I realise avocados are not exactly a 'frugal ingredient', but we always have them in the house (they go with EVERYTHING), so it's a no-brainer for me. I always cook this to serve four people so that my boyfriend can have an extra helping and I can take the rest to work for my lunch the next day, and it's always on the table in less than 30 minutes, with hardly five minutes spent slaving at the stove.

Ingredients for 4
1 onion
2tbsp Patak's korma curry paste
300g rinsed and drained basmati rice
700ml water or stock
A few tablespoons of frozen peas
A handful of cherry tomatoes
2 avocados
4 eggs
Coriander and sea salt to serve

Finely slice the onion and dry fry with the curry paste. Add the rice to the pain and stir to coat before pouring in the water or stock. Bring it to the boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes* until the rice is fluffy and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat off, chuck in the frozen peas and cover for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil your eggs. Every person I know has the best way to boil eggs, but I like to pop my eggs in a pan with 2 inches of cold water (it doesn't cover the eggs, so it certainly doesn't look like the best way at first). Put a lid on the pan, bring the water up to the boil and (without taking off the lid - v. important), switch the water off and leave to stand for 5 minutes for 'nearly hardboiled, but not quite' eggs. This method uses less gas for when those bills are running a bit high but, y'know, your usual method is probably a safe bet.

Serve the rice with half an avocado each, a boiled egg and lots of salt and coriander.

Cost per portion: 95p (varies according to ingredients used)

Once you're down with the basic method of this recipe, it is so versatile. You could change the spices with a Thai curry paste or some paprika and chorizo for a paella-style dish.

*3 things you can do in 15 minutes: play with your pet, clean out your junk drawer, watch a Zoella video on YouTube (#guilty pleasure). Is it gross to clean your bathroom while your dinner cooks? Probably (yes).


  1. I just commented but it doesn't look like it showed up! I blame google. Anyway, I think I said something along the lines of I'm so happy you're posting recipes, every time you instagram your lunch it makes me instantly jealous/starving.x

    1. Thanks! I'm going to try and post a lot more once I can get hold of my dslr again (my mum's been borrowing it) and really think and plan my posts - this one was hurriedly taken with my iPhone, but I think that works for these cheap recipes anyway.