Friday night last week I indulged in a dish I do not often make but probably should as it is favourite of mine. It is one of those dishes that is great fun to construct – it is a coming together of several key elements – eggs, rice and fish – in a most blissful harmony that makes supper rather rapturous in a way one would not think plausible. Kedgeree is hundreds of years old as a dish – originally called khichri and there was no fish – it was chiefly a dish of rice and mung beans with butter eaten at breakfast. As the British Empire builders descended on India, they rather took to the dish and threw in some of their breakfast staples, boiled eggs and fish, creating more of what we now know as kedgeree – a British corruption of khichri.
And it has all sorts of possibilities, like any curry dish or rice dish there are so many versions. This is my current favourite version.
FOR 4 FOLK
3 or 4 free-range eggs
600g undyed smoked haddock fillets
2 bay leaves
180 gm long-grain or basmati rice
50 gm unsalted butter
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 fresh red chill deseeded and chopped finely
1 level tsp of turmeric
6 black peppercorns
Juice of 2 lemons
2 handfuls fresh chopped coriander
Sea salt and black pepper
Natural yoghurt to serve with
Hard boil the eggs for about 6 minutes – pop into a bowl of cold water to let them cool. Cook your rice and drain and rinse lightly in cold water. Then pop the butter into a large frying pan or sauté pan and once melted add the onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat until onions are soft. Add the garam massala, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, salt and pepper to the pan with the onions. Add the chill and the stalks of the coriander and stir fry for 10 minutes.
Peel the eggs and quarter them.
Prepare a saucepan with enough water to cover the haddock fillet. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns to the pan of water and poach the haddock for five minutes. Remove fish with a slotted spoon gently and set to one side to cool, then skin and flake the fish making sure there are no bones.
Add the rice into the frying pan with the onions and spices, season and mix well. Add the juice of one and a half lemons and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Roughly chop the coriander. Sprinkle the turmeric and half of the coriander into the pan and add half the eggs and half of the flaked haddock too. Stir gently. Let it all warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning as you wish.
Then add the rest of the egg quarters and the rest of the coriander and the lemon wedges.
Pop the lid on and leave it to steam together and create the symphony that is kedgeree! Serve with natural yoghurt.
You could use other fish if you like, smoked mackerel works, but I love undyed smoke haddock the best.
You could also use curry powder instead of garam masala.
Fiddling with this dish is what it is all about – but I love it as it is.