Coconut and almond pilaf rice

2 cups basmati rice
400g tin light coconut milk
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 lemon leaf

Wash rice until the water is no longer cloudy, put it in a pot and pour over the coconut milk along with all other ingredients, plus a pinch of salt. Put a lid on and bring to the boil, cook for seven minutes then switch off the heat and leave the rice in the pot with the lid on to carry on steaming in its own juices. Fluff the rice before serving with a fork. For an expert topping, caramelise half an onion sliced finely in butter with 50g of toasted, unblanched, roughly sliced almonds. Garnish.

Brown basmati rice with green lentils

2 cups brown basmati rice
1 cup green lentils (you could also use brown)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp butter (optional)

Wash lentils and rice and place in a pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cover the rice with five cups of water. Bring to the boil with the lid on and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Check pot periodically to ensure there is enough water. Add butter at the end, after draining.