Fish Curry for Breakfast?

“And then there was kedgeree. The English brought the recipe back from India, and adapted to their own taste. In India kedgeree was made of rice, lentils, onions, eggs and spices. The English added smoked fish, usually haddock, and kedgeree became a breakfast dish.”

—Time Life Foods of the World, Cooking of the British Isles


There’s more than one story about the origins of kedgeree. Did it originate in Scotland, then travel to India and back again? Is it based on an Indian dish called Khichṛī that consists of rice and lentils, but no fish? Either way, it became a popular breakfast dish because of the way it can easily turn yesterday’s fish and rice into today’s breakfast—at least in the times before refrigeration—and wouldn’t look out of place next to a plate of kippers.

Kedgeree in a Bowl

This is not Time Life’s kedgeree, but rather a synthesis of theirs, recipes found around the internet, Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef, and an old “Celtic Cookbook” I bought years and years ago. Some versions call for adding peas (which I often do), some use parsley instead of cilantro, some call for the eggs to be mixed in rather than included more in the style of a garnish, and some even ask for sultanas. All these variations speak to how dishes like this change as people eat and share new foods, and what’s on hand in the kitchen. Mine uses smoked salmon, since haddock is very uncommon on the Pacific coast, and cilantro to add more Indian flavor than parsley.

Cooking Kedgeree

Kedgeree

2 cups of rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock
12 oz smoked haddock
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
1 medium onion, finely chopped
¾ cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder (madras style, preferably)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
3 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Place rice into a large pan and cover with vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and cover. Leave for 10 minutes and then remove but leave covered.

In a smaller pan, place the fish and cover with milk. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Simmer for five minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Once the fish is cooked, flake and discard any bones or skin. Save the milk.

Melt butter over medium low heat and sweat down the onions until they’re soft and just golden. Add curry and milk, turning the heat down to a simmer, stirring until the mixture thickens. Then leave to cook gently for five minutes.

Add cream and fish to the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the rice to a large serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Add the cilantro and mix carefully to avoid breaking up the fish further. Top with the hard boiled eggs and serve. Should make enough for four meal sized portions.

3 thoughts on “Fish Curry for Breakfast?

  1. I never have, but certainly the Victorians did. Next time I’m in the UK, I’ll have to hunt around for someplace with kedgeree on the breakfast menu.

  2. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this when you mentioned you’d be making it. And I’m not sure why — it has many of my favorite ingredients, and I have always been a fan of Indian and Indian-inspired foods. Perhaps because it’s supposed to be a breakfast dish, though why that should throw me for a loop is a mystery. I have never been a fan of traditional breakfast foods and usually eat leftovers in the morning.

    This dish was quite tasty, and I will definitely be making it for my own breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in the future. I’ll even try to find some smoked haddock, though I thought the salmon was an excellent substitute.

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