Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish, brought back to England during the Raj. It combines the rich flavors of rice, curry and smoked fish and evolved from khichri, a spicy mixture of lentils and rice that contained no fish. It’s wonderful for brunch or supper, easy to put together and quite festive. In England it’s usually made with smoked haddock (finnan haddie) but as it’s hard to find in the U.S., I use smoked salmon, not the Scottish or lox kind but the hot smoked, solid piece generally available at supermarkets. You can of course use any smoked fish, or a variety if making a large amount. At its core this is a rice dish, so it’s important to use good rice. Basmati is best, but I’ve been known to use Uncle Ben’s Converted when making it for a crowd. (Uncle Ben’s is more forgiving than Basmati if there’s a delay in serving it.)
Serves 4 (double the ingredients for 8)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, pounded
1 tablespoon good curry powder (Madras type)
1-1/4 cups basmati rice
2 cups hot water
1 piece cold-smoked salmon, 6-8 oz.
1 tablespoon crème fraîche or whipping cream (optional)
2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or a mixture of parsley and cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mango chutney (optional)
In a heavy bottomed skillet or casserole (with a lid), melt the butter over low heat, add the oil and cook the onion until softened. Add the ginger, ground coriander and curry powder and stir around for a minute or two. Add the rice and continue to stir for another couple of minutes until the rice is opaque and is well impregnated with the butter and spices. Then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the hot water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to as low as possible – the rice should barely simmer – cover the pan and let cook for 17 minutes. Don’t peek!
Meantime, remove any skin, bones, and brown parts from the salmon and flake it. When the rice has cooked for 17 minutes, check to make sure it’s done – the liquid should all be absorbed and the rice tender. If it’s sticking at all, add a tablespoon of hot water to the pan. Add the flaked salmon, half the parsley and the cream (for a richer flavor). Stir in gently, close the pot and allow to steam for another 3 -5 minutes. Check for salt.
Mound the kedgeree on a platter. Decorate with the eggs, parsley and lemon quarters. Serve immediately with a bowl of chutney.