"I’d prefer to think of kedgeree in a different context, as Britain’s contribution to the worldwide canon of great rice-based dishes..."
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
1tbsp curry powder
5-6 cardamom pods
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).