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Kedgeree - from the Raj to the British menu

Updated on May 4, 2013

Kedgeree - smoked haddock, fluffy rice and a hint of spice

This lens gives you instructions for making kedgeree, one of my favourite fish dishes and tells some of the story of the dish. You will also find some suggestions for good fish recipe books to add to your cooking library.

You could describe this as a fish recipe, a rice recipe or even an egg recipe since it contains all of them.

Let's get something straight first. What you want for this dish is not the cheaper bright yellow type of smoked haddock. This type contains a food colouring which personally I don't want in my dish. Look for the labels 'undyed' , 'traditionally smoked' or 'naturally smoked' and a fish that is just a pale creamy colour. I do appreciate that depending where you live, you may not be able to get this kind. If you can't get smoked haddock which is really a North Sea European fish, you could try smoked cod or even kipper fillets if you don't mind a stronger smoked fish flavour.

I'm starting with the ingredients so you can make a shopping list if need be. This recipe says it will serve 4.

Last Edited: May 4th 2013 @ 14:10 BST

By - Jenny Fletcher

Moong dal commonly called split peas in the UK
Moong dal commonly called split peas in the UK

A brief history of kedgeree

...or khichri if you will

During the days of the British Empire, many families who lived in India had local cooks who adapted recipes for the British palate. Kedgeree started off life as a dish of lentils or beans and rice called khichri or kitcheri and similar dishes exist all over the subcontinent with regional variations.

However there is a second source that involves TWO transitions, firstly a dish taken to India by Scottish troops in the 1700's that spread widely and was then re-adopted and Anglicized.

Whichever is correct, the Indian version with lentils became at some point the British version with smoked fish and has since travelled to other places with British AND Indian connections such as the Caribbean. I spent my honeymoon in Antigua and it was always a feature of the breakfast buffet in our hotel.

undyed smoked haddock
undyed smoked haddock


time to check your cupboards and make a shopping list

300ml milk

1 bay leaf

400g undyed smoked haddock

25g unsalted butter

2 tbsp oil

1 onion finely chopped

2 tsp curry powder

175g Basmati rice well rinsed and drained

100g frozen peas

4 eggs

1tbsp single (light) cream

A pinch of paprika (optional)

Chopped parsley

Chopped coriander (optional)

Cook fish with the River Cottage man - Give this book as a gift to your favourite cook

Every good cook (unless totally veggie) needs a book that explains how to prepare and cook fish. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (the Fishfight chef) goes further, discussing going out and catching it too and foraging on the beach for shellfish too.

Here is the Amazon UK link

The River Cottage Fish Book
The River Cottage Fish Book

Hugh is well known (in the UK at least) for his ideas about sustainability and using free wild food. His writing style in all his books is clear and uncomplicated.

Worldwide, fish stocks are becoming scarcer caused by intensive fishing methods employed by big business while the traditional fishing industry is struggling for a living. The message is gradually getting through and delicious fish such as coley and pollack, once thought only good for the cat to eat or as bait for other fish, are appearing in the shops again.

If you have a fishmonger's shop where you live, or somewhere you can buy fresh fish direct from the boat, go and use it. Ask what they've caught and how to cook it.


How to make Kedgeree

Prep: 10 mins. Cook:30 mins

  • Put the milk and an equal amount of water in a shallow pan and add the haddock and the bay leaf.

  • Bring to the boil and simmer 1 min. Then turn off the heat and leave to cool a little in the liquid while you get on with other preparations.

  • Heat the butter and oil, chop the onion very finely and add to the pan. Sweat very gently for about 10 minutes but do not allow the onion to brown - just gently golden is good. Now mix in the curry powder and the drained rice and stir around till the rice is coated with the butter and slightly coloured with the curry powder. Add a good soup-ladleful of the fish cooking liquid, stir and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. I use a heat diffuser at this point.

  • Keep an eye on the pan and add more cooking liquid as it is absorbed. Keep on stirring from time to time and do not add too much liquid at a time. You are aiming to add just enough to be absorbed by the rice without becoming too wet. Add the peas when the rice is nearly cooked.

  • Now you can lift the fish out of the liquid and leave to cool a little more. Skin and flake the fish and remove any remaining bones.

  • Next, put the eggs onto boil. They want about 5 minutes so they are softly set, but not like bullets. Run under cold water so they do not form a grey layer between the yolk and the white. Shell them and leave in cold water till ready to use for garnish.

  • When your rice mixture is cooked, you can stir in your cooked fish and the cream off the heat. Taste for seasoning. It shouldn't need salt, but you may like a little more pepper or you can add the paprika if liked. Remove to a serving dish or warmed plates and garnish with the finely chopped green herbs and quartered eggs.

If not eating for breakfast when a good cup of tea is the best accompaniment, you could choose a New Zealand Sauvignon white wine, or a white Rioja.

The cheat's version

An easy kedgeree recipe

This works too and can be done in a few minutes for a quick fish and rice dish. It doesn't have quite the depth of flavour of the full version but is still a warming and tasty meal.

This is for just two people.

200g undyed smoked haddock


1 sachet Tilda ready cooked microwave pilau rice - Uncle Bens also make one and supermarkets may have their own version. You could also use a tub of pilau rice from the Indian food section in your supermarket chill cabinet.

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 tsp curry powder

1 tablespoon cream

1/2 chopped onion

tablespoon butter

tablespoon oil

parsley and or fresh coriander if you have some

2 eggs

  • Chop the onion very finely and fry very gently in the oil and butter mixture. Do not allow to brown. You want pale golden. Add the curry powder at the end and fry for another minute.

  • Put your eggs onto boil and time them for 5 minutes. Put the fish in a shallow dish and pour on enough milk to just cover. Cling film and put in the microwave for 1 min 30 seconds. Set aside.

  • Cook the rice in the microwave according to the instructions on the packet while the onion is frying and the fish is sitting. Tip into a serving bowl and fluff up. Cook the frozen peas for a couple of minutes in the microwave - look on the packet for time - and add to the rice.

  • The eggs should now be done, so run them under cold water till cool enough to handle. Shell and quarter. Chop the parsley and/or coriander if you have it.

  • Lift the the fish from its cooking liquid and put on a plate.Stir a tablespoon of the liquid into the hot rice. Skin and flake the fish removing any stray bones. Add the flaked fish to the rice with the onion and curry powder mix. Add the cream and stir it all together. Check the seasoning and add more if you want it.. If the rice has gone a bit cold, put it back in the microwave, covered, for a minute or two.

  • Put onto warmed plates, and garnish with the hard boiled eggs and the herbs. Eat and enjoy.

More fish cookery books - plenty to choose from

Say 'fish cookery' to someone in the UK and they will probably think of Rick Stein. I have visited one of his restaurants in Padstow, Cornwall and it has to be said, it really was good. He has certainly raised the profile of fish cooking. Besides the main restaurant, there is a fish and chip cafe and a fresh fish shop and deli next door to the Lobster hatchery on the quayside which is worth a visit in itself.

I have included a number of books here from authors that I really respect as being authorities on fish cookery and preparation.

Rick Stein's Seafood
Rick Stein's Seafood

Here is the Amazon UK link

Leiths Fish Bible
Leiths Fish Bible

Here is the Amazon UK link

The Delia Collection: Fish
The Delia Collection: Fish

Here is the Amazon UK link


Here is the Amazon UK link


Please let me know whether you enjoyed my lens

Would you cook this recipe? - Tell me about any kedgeree variations

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    • Marinna profile image


      4 years ago

      nice, thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Many years ago in a shared house I was regularly fed a delicious kedgeree, but I never thought to get the recipe and I've been searching for it ever since. Your's sound very, very close. I'll give it a go and let you know how I get on :o)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Great job, your tasty lens has been added to Culinary Favorites From A to Z under fish.

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 

      8 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I enjoyed your Kedgeree lens so much today. I have never tried this dish, but I like all the ingredients so one of these days I will go ahead and try it. The pictures and addition of the fast "cheat" recipe is a great idea too.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds really good. We try to eat fish at least once a week. Glad to get a new recipe to try.

      Thanks for sharing


    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      5*...very nice lens...and the recipe sounds good, unfortunately I don't eat fish so won't be making it...however I will pass this on to my fishloving friends

    • LadyFlashman profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yum! I know what I'm going to cook for dinner now!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I did one year of culinary arts so I dig this lens and always great learning about new food and new recipes to go with said new food :) 5 stars !

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I did one year of culinary arts so I dig this lens and always great learning about new food and new recipes to go with said new food :) 5 stars !


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