A jealously guarded treat for two
Our return to Scotland, as well as serving up a hefty dose of reverse culture shock (we found it hard to get used to queuing again, for instance), has also brought changes on the domestic front. When we came back, our children were all home and mealtimes were still a big, family-sized affair. Now, our daughter has left to take up her first proper job and our sons are getting set to do likewise and dinner is sadly no longer a daily, whole-family ritual. In fact, it’s rare to have even one child dining with us.
Needless to say, I am in denial about this and unwilling to downsize my cooking, which means I am still making huge meals but invariably just for the two of us. This results in a fridge full of leftovers that we soon tire of and a realization that I will have to start scaling back the catering.
I’m mostly reluctant to cook in anything less than abundant quantities but there has always been one exception. This kedgeree recipe is my perfect, jealously guarded treat for two. When the children were all still at home, we used to eat it in secret on weekend mornings while they were still in bed.
Kedgeree is thought to be a British adaptation of the traditional Indian rice and lentil dish khichdi. With a protein pack addition of eggs and smoked fish, it then became an Anglo-Indian staple. Interestingly, it also appears in the 1790 cookbook of one Stephana Malcolm of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. In Britain, unlike India, kedgeree is always a fish dish made with smoked haddock and parsley.
Traditional kedgeree recipes usually call for fish that needs to be cooked first, like smoked haddock or fresh salmon. If you want to do this, use the water in which you cook the fish to also cook the rice. The flavouring was from onions, parsley and, of course, curry powder. Mine speeds up the cooking process by adding smoked salmon to the cooked rice. I also like to flavour my kedgeree with something closer to the dish’s Indian origins: turmeric, garam masala and fresh coriander.
It’s quick to make, barely 10 minutes of kitchen activity, and results in the sublime deliciousness of lightly spiced buttery rice, eggs and smoked fish. And for the twosome devouring it here, some compensation, one of the few times when it’s nicer to be eating à deux.
Quick Smoked Salmon Kedgeree
A pinch of salt
Half tsp turmeric, ground
1 tsp garam masala
150g Basmati rice
300ml hot vegetable stock
3 large eggs
100g smoked salmon, torn into small-ish pieces
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Peel and finely slice the onion. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt until slightly caramelized. Add the turmeric and garam masala, stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice to coat with the spiced butter. Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil. Put a lid on the pan, reduce heat to low, then leave to cook gently for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs for about 8 minutes, then peel and chop each egg into four pieces. When the rice is cooked, stir in the juice of half a lemon and smoked salmon, and put the lid back on for 1 minute. Stir in the coriander, then serve straight away with the chopped eggs and the remaining lemon cut into wedges.
The Way We Eat Now is a fortnightly column on new ways of cooking seasonal fruits, vegetables and grains. Pamela Timms tweets at @eatanddust and posts on Instagram as Eatanddust.