Kedgeree With Smoked Mackerel
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Another of those things that the Empire confiscated in the colonial times – and I don’t mean the Elgin Marbles.
We have adopted the original rice-bean vehicle, or possibly the rice-lentil combo, which of course at source had nothing to do with haddock, let alone smoked. The origins of chicken tikka masala, here we come. Kedgeree - a strange concoction of rice, eggs and fish was born, served on a silver salver. Weren’t those good old days?
No, not quite. I do quite dislike western adaptations of original indigenous dishes, should they be the apparently innocuous carbonara with cream, or chop suey – or kebabs, in western interpretation anything threaded on a stick*. But kedgeree is a good dish where the combination of hot smoked fish and prawns with lightly spiced rice works as well as paella. I never cease to be amazed at those similarities across the globe.
I don’t much like smoked haddock that needs to be cooked, which features in a lot of kedgeree recipes: smoked fish for me is ready to be eaten. Also, haddock seems too much of a northern fish to go into a dish of Indian of origin so I’ve replaced it with hot smoked mackerel. Breakfast? I don’t know but it’s an excellent lunch dish and a brilliant starter.
*but I might be insulting western world, as I’m told apparently the origins of kebab go back to medieval soldiers skewering meat on their swords to roast over open fire. Or bits of enemies?
- 2 eggs
- 200g long grain rice
- 60g butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom seeds
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- a pinch of saffron
- 2 hot-smoked mackerels
- 100g fresh or frozen cooked peeled prawns
- 50g frozen petit pois or peas, thawed or briefly microwaved
- a few sprigs of coriander, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chopped chives
- 4-5 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
Place the eggs in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water, peel and set aside.
Rinse the rice under running cold water. Melt the butter in a large pan with a lid, add the chopped onions when the butter is foaming, turn the heat down and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the spices, stir well and cook for a minute. Add the rice and stir in to coat it with the butter and spices. Pour in 400ml cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer, cover with the lid and cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Take it off the heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes. It should have absorbed all the liquid by then – if it hasn’t, stir it about to the bottom of the dish and leave uncovered for a couple of minutes.
In the meantime take the skin off the mackerel, check it for larger bones and break into bite sized chunks. If using frozen prawns, put them in a bowl with cold water and leave for 10-15 minutes, changing the water halfway through.
Stir the mackerel pieces, prawns, chopped coriander and the petit pois into the rice, divide it between plates and serve with halved or quartered eggs and a sprinkle of chives.