For anyone on a budget – and let’s face it, who isn’t these days – pilafs are a good way to fill up the family without breaking the bank.
Any number of variations are possible, so long as you combine rice with some powerfully flavoured ingredients – reliable combinations are chicken and leek, spinach and bacon, or prawn and pea. The Thai-style pilaf here is given a boost with curry paste, lemon and coriander and is made with boneless chicken thighs which are cheaper, better flavoured and more succulent than the more usual chicken breasts.
For differently flavoured pilafs follow the same basic method as below – browning any meat, softening onions and garlic, cooking any raw vegetables and then combining the rice and stock before putting it in the oven. Our Thai pilaf is good on its own but also good served with sir-fry greens or broccoli.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
450g skinless chicken thighs, diced
2 onions, finely sliced
2 carrots peeled and coarsely grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
60g green Thai curry paste
250g Basmati rice, rinsed
500ml vegetable stock or water
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
Bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200/fan 190/gas 6.
- Heat half of the oil in an ovenproof casserole dish (with a lid) on a medium high heat.
- Season the chicken pieces, add them to the pan and brown quickly.
- Lift the chicken out with a slotted spoon and add the rest of the oil and the onions to the pan.
- Turn down the heat and soften the onions gently for about 7-10 minutes then add the garlic and carrot and cook for a few minutes until softened.
- Return the heat to high, add the curry paste and the rice and return the chicken to the pan.
- Stir everything until well coated with curry paste, add the stock and lemon zest and season to taste.
- Bring to the boil, cover with a lid cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the rice is fluffy and cooked.
- Stir in the lemon juice and coriander to serve.