Wednesday, 17 August 2011


"I’d prefer to think of kedgeree in a different context, as Britain’s contribution to the worldwide canon of great rice-based dishes..."
Well it seems like an aeon since I posted a recipe on Gastrolad. It’s not that I’ve deserted the stove in favour of eating out every night, but suddenly having a job to go to every day seriously curtails one’s opportunities for mincing about in the kitchen producing rhubarb sundaes, soda bread and the like. As does having a social life again after three months spent marooned in deepest, darkest Yorkshire.

Actually I have been cooking quite a lot (you won’t catch me with a ready-made chicken tikka masala in the trolley) and today’s recipe is a good example of the kind of dish that you can knock up pretty quickly at home after work. It is also one you can easily scale up so there’s plenty left over for your lunchbox the next day. After all, times is hard, and in order to save up for a ski trip to Utah I’m going to have to forego my gourmet lunches from Leon in favour of something home-made.

Before I launch into the recipe, a bit of the usual chat about the dish itself- after all, there’s plenty to say about kedgeree and its Anglo-Indian origins. The rumour is that the dish is of Indian origin and was brought back to Britain by the returning members of the ruling Raj, who used to enjoy a similar dish for breakfast. Indeed a dish of smoked haddock (which is about as British/Scottish as it gets –think Arbroath Smokies) combined with basmati rice and curried spices is really just a Victorian version of that much derided and celebrated art form - fusion cookery.

However I’d prefer to think of kedgeree in a different context, as Britain’s contribution to the worldwide canon of great rice-based dishes. The Spanish have paella; the Italians have risotto; the Venetians risi e bisi; the Chinese have any number, not just egg fried rice from the local greasy takeaway; the Indonesians have one of my favourites in nasi goreng (which is also served with an egg and eaten at breakfast); the Americans have jambalaya; and we have good old kedgeree, which is undoubtedly one of the best.  I mean what more could you want than the perfumed buttery rice, delicately flavoured fish, some zing from a squeeze of lemon and a bit of verdant fresh herbiness from the parsley.

While it was originally a breakfast dish, outside Downton Abbey I’m not sure there are many places where you would find kedgeree offered before midday. I suppose it is a bit old fashioned when most people eat their breakfast at their desks or grab a coffee on the way to work. But if you fancy having a weekend brunch with a difference, give it a shot, if not, it makes a delicious supper dish…


(makes enough for 4, or 2 plus a couple of leftover helpings for the lunchbox)

300g smoked haddock fillet
250g basmati rice
1 large onion, chopped
100g butter
1tbsp curry powder
5-6 cardamom pods
4 eggs
1 handful chopped parsley
1 lemon, quartered
Salt and pepper

1.       Start off by poaching the smoked haddock in the milk (enough to just about cover it). You can either do this is the saucepan or take the easy route and stick it in the microwave for 5 minutes – either way works fine.

2.     When the haddock is cooked, pour off and reserve the cooking liquid, remove the skin and flake the fish getting rid of any bones. Then set aside on a warmed plate.

3.       You can now turn your attention to the rice. First of all, melt the butter in a saucepan and when it is foaming add the cardamom and curry powder. Cook this for a couple of minutes until the spices start to release their aromas.

4.       Then add the onions, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down and cook gently until the onions are soft and translucent.

5.       Whilst the onions are cooking you can prepare the rice by washing it in plenty of cold water and put the eggs onto boil – 8 or 9 minutes for a hard boiled egg with a slightly soft yolk.

6.       When the onions are ready, add the rice, give it a stir to coat it in the spicy butter (a bit like you would with a risotto) and the add enough of the cooking liquid to cover the rice by a couple of centimetres. If there isn’t enough just top it off with some water.

7.       Cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to cook for 10 or so minutes. By this time the rice should be cooked nice and fluffy, and the hard boiled eggs peeled, quartered and ready to go.

8.       To assemble the dish, stir the flaked haddock, chopped parsley and another knob of butter into the rice, check the seasoning and serve up with the quartered eggs and a wedge of lemon on the side.

Et voila- nice, easy, cheap and a perfect option for the busy urbanite!

Must go, I have a plum and apple crumble in the oven (no joke).


  1. Kedgeree is a real childhood memory/comfort food for me - I can't get enough of the stuff. But really hate the over-thought versions you sometimes get in restaurants with poached eggs or overly creamy rice. This one looks spot on. I sometimes stir cooked lentils through at the end which adds lovely texture and pads it out a little more.

    Great tip re lunch boxes, although depends how tolerant your workmates are. I've brought it into the office before and opened my tupperware to a haze of curry and garlic - not always ideal if you're eating at your desk!

  2. I'll have to pull out my kedgeree recipe for a RWC breakfast one morning!

    Must agree with thelittleloaf above - The Wolseley, for example, do quite a decent kedgeree but it comes swimming in butter and is really a bit rich for a breakfast dish.

    Special Sauce

  3. Well as keen readers will know I am a man of simple tastes, so no cream or owt like that in my kedge. I can confirm that there were no complaints when I ate the leftovers at my desk, or maybe I just have understanding colleagues.