Diana Lampe cooks kedgeree with Bombay potatoes and kachumber salad.
Diana Lampe cooks kedgeree with Bombay potatoes and kachumber salad. Photo: Jay Cronan

Kedgeree is a classic Anglo-Indian breakfast dish that became popular during the British rule of India. It developed from the original khichri, an Indian dish of rice and moong dhal (hulled and split mung beans). Fish, eggs and cream were added by the British.

In Victorian times, in a British country home, you may well have come down for breakfast and found kedgeree waiting on the sideboard. Some might still, but you could serve it to your family or invite some friends for brunch. It is also a lovely dish to have for lunch or supper.

I am very fond of kedgeree and make it often for breakfast with leftover rice or salmon. I don't follow a particular recipe and don't always brown the onions for the garnish. The recipe is very flexible, so think of this one as a guide. You may like to add some chilli or cayenne pepper for heat or include some lentils or sultanas.

Bombay potatoes.
Bombay potatoes. Photo: Jay Cronan

The Victorian writer Mrs Beeton suggests using the same weight of raw rice to smoked fish, which seems about right.

The British would most likely use smoked haddock, preferably undyed. Kedgeree can be lightly spiced, as in my recipe, or made without spice. It was traditionally made with lots of butter and sometimes cream, but it doesn't have to be.

Bombay potatoes are a spicy and tasty side dish that goes well with kedgeree and other Indian dishes. Kachumber is a quickly made tomato and cucumber salad that adds freshness to any Indian meal.

>> Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, dlampe@bigpond.net.au.

Kedgeree

Serves 4-5

1½ cups basmati or long-grain rice

4 tbsp sunflower oil

1 bay leaf

½ tsp turmeric

sea salt and ground pepper

4-5 free-range eggs at room temperature

300g smoked cod fillets or similar

1 cup milk

1 large brown onion

1 tsp curry powder

2-3 tsp butter

1½ lemons

1 bunch curly-leaf parsley, chopped

mango chutney, to serve

Rice

Wash the rice in several changes of water until it runs clear. If you have time, soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain well.

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a heavy saucepan. Tip in the rice and bay leaf and fry for a few moments, stirring until the grains are coated with oil. Pour in three cups of boiling water, add the turmeric, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Stir once, cover the pot and turn the heat down as low as it will go and steam for 12 to 15 minutes. Take off the heat and leave covered and undisturbed for five to 10 minutes. Fluff up the rice to use in the kedgeree.

Eggs

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil on medium heat and then simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and run under cold water to stop cooking. Tap the shells all over and peel from the broad end with the help of a teaspoon to slip under the shell. Cut two eggs into quarters and roughly chop the others.

Fish

Poach the smoked fish in a pan with the milk and enough water to cover. When it boils, take off the heat and leave covered for about 10 minutes to finish cooking. Then lift the fish out, remove the skin and bones and flake the flesh. Discard the poaching liquid.

Kedgeree

Cut the onion in half lengthwise and chop one half and set aside. Slice the other half into half-circles. Heat a little of the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the onion slices and fry, stirring until brown. Transfer the slices to kitchen paper to drain and set aside for garnish. Discard the oil.

Just before serving time, heat a large saute pan with the remaining oil and gently fry the chopped onion until soft. Stir in the curry powder and butter, and then add the flaked fish and chopped eggs. Now turn the heat up to moderate and add the rice. Season well and stir until hot. Take off the heat, squeeze half a lemon over the kedgeree and mix in the parsley.

Tip into a warm serving dish and garnish with the brown onions and quarters of hard-boiled egg. Serve straight away while warm with lemon wedges and mango chutney.

Variations: Add two tablespoons of sultanas for sweetness, soaked first in hot water. A half cup of defrosted frozen peas or some cooked green lentils are good additions. Moisten the kedgeree with a little milk or cream. Fresh coriander and lime can be used instead of parsley and lemon. Sprinkle with garam masala at the end.

Kachumber - tomato and cucumber relish

2-3 tomatoes, cubed

1-2 Lebanese cucumber, cubed

½ red onion or Asian red eschalots, finely diced and rinsed

½ chilli, finely chopped (optional)

2 tbsp chopped coriander and/or mint

¼ tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds

sea salt to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the prepared tomato, cucumber, onion or eschalots, the chilli (if using) and the coriander and/or mint in a bowl. Mix through the cumin, salt and lemon juice. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, then serve as part of an Indian meal.

Bombay potatoes

500g waxy potatoes such as desiree or King Edward

1 bay leaf

sea salt

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 thumbnail-sized knob ginger, finely chopped

½ green chilli, finely chopped

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

ground pepper

pinch cayenne (optional)

½ lemon

2 tbsp chopped coriander

Cook the potatoes ahead of time, if you can. Place the whole potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover, add the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until tender. Peel while hot and keep in the fridge until needed. Cut into two-centimetre pieces.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry until they start to crackle and pop. Add the chopped ginger and chilli, the turmeric and ground coriander and stir briefly. Take off the heat if it is too hot and add a splash of water. Then, stir in the potatoes and season with salt, pepper and, if you like, the cayenne. Fry until the potatoes are coated with the spices and tinged golden brown. Squeeze on the lemon juice and mix through the fresh coriander. Serve as a side dish with Indian and other meals.