Staying with my grandmother was always exciting when I was a young lad. I never knew what I would get for a meal, but it was always a treat. Oh my, what on earth is this? was my initial reaction to kedgeree when she first presented it to me. Smells good, looks stunning, but what, really, is it?
Kedgeree is thought to have originated with an Indian rice-and-bean or rice-and-lentil dish, khichri, which traced back to 1340 or earlier. It is widely believed that the dish was brought to the United Kingdom by returning British colonials.
Most Brits know the dish very well. A popular meal at breakfast time or brunch, kedgeree like bubble and sqeak is usually produced from leftovers.
Kedgeree, made with smoked fish, is a must for all enthusiasts of East Indian cuisine. Turmeric enhances the true flavour of the fish, coriander adds a certain kick, a squeeze of lemon adds its own fresh, sharp taste – and voilà, a feast for any food loving person.
2 fillets dyed smoked haddock
2 cups regular milk
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cardamom pods, split
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 cup of cooked peas
1½ cups basmati rice
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp butter
A handful of coriander leaves
Lemon wedges, to serve
Wash the haddock under clean cold water. Pour the milk into a non-stick pan and add the fish. Cook on medium heat for 6 minutes or so, or until the fish flesh turns white. Lift the cooked fish from the milk with a slotted spoon, discard the skin and any bones, cover to keep warm and set aside.
Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep frying or sauté pan (with a lid). Add the onion, cardamom and cinnamon and fry until the onion is soft and golden, about 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often.
Using the milk left from the cooked fish, add sufficient water to bring the combined volume to one pint. Rinse the rice in warm water in a colander, drain, then stir into the onion mixture. Keep stirring for 1 minute so the rice is coated. Pour in the diluted milk and stir in the turmeric. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10 minutes, lowering the heat if the mixture starts to stick on the bottom.
When the rice is tender, remove from the heat, drop the butter on top and allow it to melt in. Lay the pieces of whole fish on the rice. Cover and leave for the flavours to mingle. Meanwhile, put the intact eggs in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes (to be lightly cooked), remove them from the heat and plunge them into cold water, cracking the shells against the side of the pan. Peel off the shells and quarter the eggs.
To serve, break the fish into big pieces with a fork, sprinkle the coriander over it and stir gently to mix without breaking up the fish, adding the eggs at the end.
For this meal, I added a little dill hollandaise sauce. To season, serve with lemon wedges, for squeezing over the fish and rice.
Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications Inc.
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