Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.
If world history curriculum depended on recipes instead of textbooks, I surely would have retained more of the landscape of the past.
Take kedgeree. It's considered an "Anglo-Indian" dish and the result of the clashing and melding of cultures during the British rule of the Indian subcontinent from the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s. The original Indian rendition was meatless, fervently spiced rice and lentils. When the British came to know it, they doctored it to their liking, adding smoked fish, hard-boiled eggs and cream, and nixing the native spices for a dish they turned to for breakfast or a light supper.
The details of that whole century of conflict, supposedly picked up through high school required reading, slipped through my brain like sugar through a wide-holed colander.
I discovered kedgeree (and rediscovered history) over Sunday brunch at The Kitchen in Boulder, Colorado. The savory description--curried rice, smoked trout, and parsley--wooed me away from the toffee French toast or almond buttermilk waffles. I thought it an unusual addition to the brunch menu until I learned that executive chef Hugo Matheson hails from England, where kedgeree is still a popular breakfast comfort food held over from the bygone days of the British Raj.
Aside from proving a nifty and delicious brush up on yesteryear, the bowl of kedgeree was a perfect candidate for a Meat Lite recipe. Just a bit of fish offers flavor and texture and blends with other compelling ingredients for a satisfying meal.
If you don't like something in particular (fish, smoked paprika, eggs), take a page from the history books and customize your bowl like the British did.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small sweet onion, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (mild or hot)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces smoked trout (optional)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Additional butter to taste (optional)
Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat them for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, curry and paprika and stir to combine and coat the rice. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes.
While the rice simmers, put the eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil for about 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water and shell while the eggs are still warm.
Remove the rice from the heat and let sit in the covered pot for an additional 5 minutes. Flake the fish into large pieces and stir into the hot rice to warm through. Stir in the chopped parsley.Season to taste with salt and pepper, and additional butter, if desired.
Divide the kedgeree between four bowls. Serve one egg (halved) with each serving.