This quintessentially British breakfast dish started off life as khichdi, a soupy, Indian mixture of lentils and rice embraced by the British Raj thanks to its passing resemblance to porridge. Rice aside, fishy kedgeree has little in common with the original, except for, as Sri Owen puts it, also being ‘good for invalids or those with hangovers’ – and for brunch, lunch and dinner, too.
Prep/soak 30 min
Cook 30 min
450g basmati rice
1 large onion
1 large green chilli
500g smoked haddock
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tbsp curry powder
Salt and black pepper
1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander
Kashmiri or mild chilli powder, or cayenne pepper
1 Soak the rice
Put the rice into a fine sieve and rinse under the cold tap until the water runs fairly clear. Tip into a large pan, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 30 minutes – this helps ensure a fluffier end result. If you don’t have time, you can proceed immediately, but you may need to increase the cooking time slightly in the next step.
2 Cook the rice
While the rice is soaking, peel and finely chop the onion and deseed and slice the green chilli. Drain the rice again, put it back into the pan and cover with 600ml fresh cold water. Bring to a boil over a high heat, stir, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid (if it’s a little loose, put a thin tea towel underneath the lid), turn the heat right down and leave to cook for 25 minutes.
3 Poach the fish
While the rice is cooking, put a kettle of water on to boil. Put the fish (skin side up, if it has its skin) in a shallow pan or bowl just large enough to hold it. Pour over the boiling water from the kettle to cover, and leave to sit for 10 minutes, or until just firm (check, because this will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet).
4 Boil the eggs
Boil the kettle again, then pour the boiling water into a small pan. Bring back to a simmer and gently lower in the eggs. Cook for six minutes for soft-boiled, seven for loosely set yolks, eight for fudgy yolks and nine minutes for hard-boiled. Fill the sink with cold water and drop the cooked eggs in there to stop them cooking any further.
5 Flake the fish
Remove the fish from the water and, once it’s cool enough to handle, pull off and discard the skin, along with the soaking liquid (or tip both into the dog’s bowl, if you have an obliging one). Break up the flesh into large flakes, and set aside. Put a wet tea towel on to a heatproof work surface.
6 Peel the eggs
Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat but do not remove the lid (this is to keep the steam in) and put the pan on the wet tea towel. Leave to sit undisturbed for five minutes, then fluff up with a fork. Tap the round end of the eggs on to a hard surface to crack them, then carefully peel and cut in half.
7 Fry the onion
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a lowish heat and add the chopped onion. Fry gently until softened and translucent, but not browned, then turn up the heat slightly and tip in the chilli, cardamom pods and curry powder, and stir until fragrant, squashing the cardamom pods with the spoon to bruise them.
8 Stir in the rice
Tip the cooked rice into the frying pan and stir to coat each grain with the oniony spiced butter. Fold through the fish flakes until evenly distributed and everything is nice and hot, then season the rice to taste. Finely chop the chives and roughly chop the coriander. Cut the lemon into wedges.
9 Garnish and serve
Spoon the kedgeree into a large serving dish or four individual plates (or leave it in the pan, if that’s your vibe), add the egg halves and scatter the herbs on top. Season each egg with salt and a pinch of chilli powder, and serve immediately.
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