Kedgeree is one of those ultra versatile store cupboard-heavy platefuls of deliciousness. Claimed as Indian by the British and British by everyone else it sits well on the smörgåsbord which is colonial food, having roots in both kichori/kichuri a lentil and rice dish which may be wet, dry plain or spicy and, well, smoked haddock, a traditional British stockfish.
Any number of recipes may be found for kedgeree. They are all so different: using fresh ingredients and left-overs, cooked and as yet uncooked rice, peas or no peas, eggs or no eggs, hard boiled or soft, shrimps? bacon? chillies? parsley? The only essential ingredient is curry powder. Reader, take note – not a carefully chosen amalgam of freshly ground spices but plain old Edwardian curry powder – although not too much, I suggest.
This is my version, which I make for brunch or supper, especially when I have unexpected company (clearly not recently). Plenty for two or three:
- Ingredients: two undyed smoked haddock portions (225g), 200g carnaroli (risotto) rice, a large handful of fresh or frozen peas, one onion, one or two eggs. One teaspoon or good shake each of curry powder, ground cumin and ground coriander; one or two cardamon pods, a few curry leaves, fresh thyme, a small mixed bunch of coriander, flat leaved parsley and/or rocket leaves, 15g butter, 15g olive oil. Salt and pepper.
- Optional ingredients: Fresh peas, cubed courgette, a stalk of celery, green pepper, chilli, frozen Atlantic pink prawns, 50 ml white wine (or the same of water)
- Method: First cover the haddock with boiling water for a minute or two, then drain. Dice a white onion (celery too) and sweat it on a low heat with the butter, oil, crushed cardamon pods and fresh thyme. When the onion is getting towards translucence, put in the haddock and turn it over in the pan for a few minutes until it begins to change colour, then remove it to a plate. Add the rice and stir around. A wooden spoon is useful here. Raise the heat slightly and keep stirring until some of the grains look dry and slightly toasty. Turn the heat down, stir in the dry spices and throw in (gently) the wine. Stir together and keep stirring while the wine/water bubbles off. Then throw in a few curry leaves and the finely chopped stalks of the parsley/coriander, followed by enough water to cover the rice. Cover and cook slowly until the water has been absorbed.
Test the rice, it should be slightly underdone. (Add more water and keep on going if it is too undercooked.) Then reinstate the haddock, now cut into four or five pieces, and cover on a low heat so that it steams on top of the rice. This won’t take very long but depends on the thickness of the fish and how long you have already cooked it for earlier. You are aiming for large flakes of fish. A minute or so before this point add the peas. Then turn off the heat and cover until needed.
Taste the rice – it should have a warm curry back tase but otherwise fairly bland. If that is what you like, stop there. Otherwise, blanch or grill a green pepper, slice a few rings and dice the rest. Put the diced pepper in a large mixing bowl. Do the same thing with a chilli. Squeeze over some fresh lime juice, and more olive oil, salt and pepper. Then the chopped coriander and parsley, saving some leaves for decoration. Turn the rice mix into the bowl and gently combine. Try to keep the fish in appetising chunks.
Finally, soft boil a couple of eggs. Depending on how you like them you could aim for runny or just set. Take them out of the water, run under the cold tap and shell. Serve up the kedgeree garnished with a wedge of lime, some green pepper rings, coriander or parsley leaves and with the egg either buried so that the yolk runs over the rice when you reach it with your fork, or, as here, cut in half on top. Nice with mango chutney (another Indo-British fave)