Kedgeree is a dish of the British Raj. The name is an Anglicization of khichdi, which is a mixture of lentils and rice and traditionally vegetarian. The colonizers kept the rice and spices, added fish and hard-cooked eggs, and voilà, brunch or supper!
This delicious invention/adaptation found its way back to the home country, and now you can find all sorts of upmarket versions, complete with poached fresh fish, cream and even saffron. The comments to the Guardian’s article in its “How to cook perfect [whatever]” series give you a sense of the variety of preparations and the general affection in which this ultimate comfort food is held.
Many recipes call for curry powder, which I don’t stock, but don’t worry, you can make it with your basic set of Indian spices (that’s what curry powder replaces). And if you don’t have smoked haddock or kippers, you can use other types of smoked herring, trout, or the like. Leftover cooked salmon works really well too.
I learned to make kedgeree with basmati rice, but lately I’ve been using this brown rice medley from Trader Joe’s. It’s higher in complex carbohydrates and adds a nutty flavor. I’ve seen similar blends at our local international market as well. If you prefer classic, stick with white rice.
Don’t worry about exact amounts. More or less of each ingredient will still work, and you should adjust to suit your tastes.*
2 hard-boiled eggs**
2 cups cooked rice
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tin smoked trout or herring, or 1/2 cup leftover cooked salmon or other firm fish
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 dried red pepper or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
Several grindings of black pepper
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a large-ish skillet. Add cumin seeds and dried red pepper if you’re using the latter. When seeds are dark brown, add onion. Saute on medium heat until onions are browned around the edges, about 7 minutes.
Add turmeric, coriander, and the cayenne if you’re using it. Stir to mix and cook for 1-2 minutes. Now add the rice and salt, and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the fish (if using tinned fish, strain off the oil), stir thoroughly, and cook covered on low heat for 15 minutes. Use the time to chop one egg and quarter the other one.
Remove from heat and stir in the chopped egg and cilantro. Add a few grinds of black pepper, plate the kedgeree, and garnish each plate with two egg quarters.
This recipe makes 2 servings. You can double or triple easily and store leftovers in the fridge. It heats up well in the microwave.
VEGAN OPTION: I haven’t tried it, but you could omit the fish and egg and substitute tofu or tempeh. It won’t taste the same, but it should be good!
*For example, in the photo above, the kedgeree has diced boiled potatoes in it. They were sitting on the counter staring at me, and I knew I wasn’t going to use them any time soon, so I cut them up and threw them in along with the fish. Had I been thinking ahead, I would have browned them with the onions.
**Everyone has a different way to hard boil eggs. Here’s mine: Put the eggs in a saucepan deep enough to cover them completely with water and add water so they are thoroughly submerged. Turn heat to high and bring to a fast simmer. Turn the heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes (this is for thoroughly hard-cooked, some would say overcooked, eggs). Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and cover with very cold water for another 5-10 minutes. Peel and slice/chop as needed. For this recipe you can start the eggs on the back burner before you do anything else, and they’ll be read to chop when you need them.