Food: A Sort Of Kedgeree
One of my favourite dishes from childhood is Kedgeree. Mum used to make a suburban Canberra version, circa 1980, with canned tuna instead of the traditional smoked haddock. But it still had those comforting flavours of buttery basmati rice, spices and hard-boiled eggs.
Kedgeree, a British colonial dish, was inspired by the nourishing Indian staple Kitchiri, which contains lentils, onions and a blend of health-giving spices.
My version combines the two plus a big handful of spring greens from the garden. With the chooks laying eggs like crazy, we eat this dish a lot in the early spring when the kids have had quite enough of quiche, thank you.
Use whatever smoked fish you can get your hands on. Make sure it’s hot smoked though, so you get those lovely flakes of fish through your rice. You can easily skip the fish altogether for a vegetarian version. Or you could even try tinned tuna. (That way you could create that 1980s Canberra classic too!)
80 grams of butter
1½ cups of basmati rice
1 cup of Puy lentils, soaked for an hour or two, then drained
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
A thumb sized knob of fresh garlic, finely grated
1 or 2 whole dried chilies, depending on your fancy
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps cumin powder
2 tsps coriander powder
handful of chopped spring greens like English spinach, rocket or baby kale
2 onions, peeled and sliced
250g smoked fish, flaked into bite size with your fingers
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
a healthy bunch of parsley, chopped
lemon wedges, to serve
Melt half the butter in a heavy based saucepan. Add the rice, lentils, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, chili and spices and stir, cooking until it smells delicious. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Leave to cook for 30 minutes or until the rice and lentils are done. You may need to add a little more water if it’s looking dry, but don’t peek too often. When the rice and lentils are tender, remove from heat, throw in the chopped greens and cover for a few minutes to wilt.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until they are golden brown then set aside.
To the rice mixture add the fish, eggs and parsley and gently fold through. Season to taste, then add some extra butter if you like – I recommend it. Top each serving with the fried onions. Serve with lemon wedges and your favourite chutney – I think tomato kasundi is good.