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This Is a recipe adapted from one I found in Nigella’s kitchen – I had no dried thyme and simply omitted, and have also added some finely diced squash to add colour and veg. This is the kind of cooking i love – mindless chopping, a little stirring and then leave to cook. Minimal effort for maximum gain. It’s also easy, which is of crucial importance when you have five hungry, impatient mouths to feed. It’s the kind of food my children love to eat too; colourful, and easy to shovel in with a spoon.


2 small onions
1 spoon of cumin seeds
1 spoon of coriander seeds
Basmati rice (white or brown)
Some finely diced squash
Chicken stock (cube is fine)
Some cooked meat
Pomegranate seeds
Flaked almonds
Fresh coriander

Finely dice the onions, and cook off in some oil (I used sunflower), adding the spices. Let them cook off for a bit, until they soften. Add a little more oil, and then and your rice. I have not specified how much,  only you will know how much to make for the mouths you want to feed. I always add extra and then have the leftovers for lunch. Push the rice around in the oily onions, coating them in oil.

Add the squash, and then the shredded cooked meat. Tonight I have used the last of the Boxing Day roast beef, and some cooked chicken I found in a tub in the freezer. Butternut squash is a vegetable I buy every week, and I just whack off a slice and chuck it in lots of dishes. My children have stopped noticing that they are eating it, which was the intention really 😉

Add your stock, enough to generously cover your rice and veg with an additional splash for luck. Check it every so often,  it may need a splash more.

I cook this in a cast iron casserole dish, and at this point I transfer mine into the preheated  oven with the lid on. It’s just as good on the hob though. It needs to cook until the rice is fluffy and does not crunch in your mouth! When you test it, adjust seasoning according to your

When ready, fork through the pomegranate seeds, the flaked almonds and some coriander to garnish.

I realise pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds are not exactly frugal ingredients, but one cannot live on meals-for-pennies everyday. And because the meat came from the depths of the freezer, I already had the almonds in my baking tin, and I grow fresh coriander on the window sill…it actually felt pretty cheap!