I must apologise for the lack of mahogany buffet-serving dresser and Victorian silver chafing dish in my photographs … Standards have slipped since the days of the Empire. Not that my antecedents seem to have ventured much beyond 100 miles of London and, sadly, there is no family silver to inherit.
But .. Kedgeree. In the normal run of things, this is more likely to be supper in my house. I doubt even my grandparents would have whipped up a batch for breakfast … although, thinking about it, my Dad’s mum may well have done as she was in service.
This was a lazy day Sunday brunch. One of those magical mornings. The seven of us all together, home from church by 9am and no-one pushing to be anywhere but a friend’s barbecue in the afternoon. That day.
Truthfully, there is no definitive recipe for Kedgeree. It’s generally accepted as being a fusion between khichdi and pilau brought back from India and given an anglicised spin. The smoked fish and the hard boiled eggs being the British contribution. I suppose that replaces the protein of khichdi’s lentils. Some people add peas. Others mushrooms. You can make a looser, creamier version or something drier. If you’re a follower of fashion you might want to top it with a softly poached egg and mix the smoked haddock with salmon et al.
It’s all fine, particularly since ‘Khichdi’ literally means hodgepodge and has just about as many variations. Khichdi is often served with crispy fried onions on top and that’s why I put some on top of my Kedgeree.
If you don’t have a stash of these sitting in your freezer they’re the first job. What you don’t use with this will sit happily in the freezer.
For the Kedgeree itself. The first step is to poach the haddock. For the seven of us, I used 2 fillets of undyed smoked haddock which weighed 0.735g. A little bit more, a little bit less, isn’t going to matter.
My Mum always poached in milk and so do I. Pour over some full-fat milk, enough so it almost covers the smoked haddock.
Bring to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and simmer for 4 minutes.
Take off the heat and leave to ‘steam’, lid on, for a further ten minutes.
Chop a couple of onions.
Bash 7 green cardamom pods.
Crush about 20 fresh or freeze-dried curry leaves. I can get fresh curry leaves at my weekly market. I give them a wash and careful dry and store in my freezer. My local Morrisons stocks Swartz freeze-dried curry leaves. Break a long cinnamon stick.
Heat 5 tablespoons of ghee, or sunflower oil, in a sauté pan and add the curry leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and onions.
Unlike most European recipes, get some colour on your onions. You are looking for soft and golden rather than the more usual ‘translucent’. Stir often and take it as dark as you dare. It all adds flavour.
By now your fish will be cooked. Lift out and keep warm. (Place them on a plate and cover with foil. Rest the plate on a saucepan of simmering water.) Sieve the milk and add enough water to make up to 900ml/1½ UK pints.
Now the onions are golden, add the curry powder.
Give everything a stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the rinsed basmati rice and give everything a stir.
Add the milk/water mix and bring to a boil. Let it simmer, covered, for ten minutes.
It’ll look like this.
Cream is an option, but I prefer butter. Lay cubes of cold unsalted butter over the rice.
Place the cooked smoked haddock on top and cover with a lid. Let it all sit and ‘steam’ for ten minutes or so. While that’s happening, it’s time to boil the eggs.
By now the rice will be fully cooked. Lightly fork the fish into the rice, leaving nice big fishy pieces.
Stir through some chopped parsley and decorate with the hard boiled eggs.
Top with some crispy fried onions. Hot or cold. Eat.
- 750g/ undyed smoked haddock
- ¾ UK pint full-fat milk
- 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil or ghee
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 20 fresh or freeze dried curry leaves, crushed
- 7 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons of curry powder
- 450g basmati rice, rinsed under running water until the water runs clear
- 75g unsalted butter
- 3 hard boiled eggs, to serve
- Handful of fresh parsley, to serve
- Handful of crispy fried onions, to serve (optional)
Place the smoked haddock in a single layer in a sauté pan and cover with the cold milk. Bring to a boil, cover, and let it simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit and finish cooking for a further 10 minutes.
Heat the sunflower oil (or ghee) in a shallow casserole dish. Add the curry leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and onions. Let the onions become soft and golden.
Remove the fish fillets from the milk and keep warm. Strain the milk and add enough water to make 900ml/1½ UK pints.
Add the curry powder to the onions and cook over a gentle heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes.
Add the rinsed basmati rice and stir to coat.
Add the milk and water mix. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. The rice should have absorbed the milk and be al dente.
Dot over the cubes of cold butter and lay the warm fish fillets on top. Cover with a lid and let everything sit for a further 10 minutes.
Lightly fork the the fish into the rice and serve with chopped parsley, hard boiled eggs and crispy fried onions.