Zebedee Helm’s take on this humble British classic

Illustration and words by Zebedee Helm

No items found.

Kedgeree (or Kedge as it is called by the youths down my way) is one of the few dishes that can be served at any of the three major meals of the day (breakfast, lunch and supper). In this version I have upped it considerably from the bland nursery mush you used to encounter in damp seaside hotels at breakfast time where it had been hiding at the bottom of menus since Victorian times. Quails' eggs are so much chicer than big old hen's eggs and the addition of chopped coriander is hugely appropriate (unless you are one of the unfortunate people whose DNA means that coriander tastes like soap to them). The large whiskery prawns are optional but look so great riding the steaming pile of rice that it breaks my heart to leave them out. The problem with rice dishes is that people are so scared of the leftovers, this is a problem you will not encounter with this version. No matter how much you make there will never be any left.

Serves 4-6

No items found.
Listen on SpotifyListen on Apple MusicListen on Soundcloud
  • 600g smoked haddock fillet
  • 1 largeish onion
  • 1 slug oil + large knob of butter

  • Cardamon seeds (from 6 pods, and don't crush them, leave them whole)
  • Ground coriander seeds
  • Ground cumin seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Ground fenugreek seeds
  • Cinnamon stick (an inch)
  • Turmeric (heaped teaspoon)
  • Salt (generous pinch or 2)
  • Black pepper
    Or curry paste or powder (2 large teaspoons) if you can't be bothered to use all the individual spices
  • 400g basmati rice
  • 150g frozen peas
  • Dozen Quail's eggs (hard-boiled)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley and coriander (chopped)
  • More butter
  • 4-6 large whiskery prawns


1. Chop the onion, reasonably finely and then fry slowly in half the butter and the slug of oil. Meanwhile, hard-boil the quail's eggs. Put the smoked haddock in a mixing bowl and pour boiling water over until the fish is covered. Then place a plate over the bowl to keep the heat in and leave for about 10 minutes. When it's ready the flesh should pull satisfactorily from the skin in large flakes. Discard the skin and any bones that are still lurking, but reserve the haddocky water. When the onion is really soft, stir in the spices (a generous pinch of each), and the turmeric. Heave these around the sautée pan for a few minutes, enjoying the aromas, then, as the mustard seed starts popping add the rice and continue stirring till the grains glisten. Now add the water you heated the haddock in until the rice is well covered. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. There is no time to put your feet up, you now have the fiddly job of quail egg peeling to do. If there is anyone loitering in the kitchen get them to help.

2. After 7 minutes throw in the peas and your flaked haddock and top up with a bit more haddocky or boiling water if it's looking too dry. Cover and cook for another 4 minutes then start testing it. If the rice is cooked then take it off the heat, if its cooked but too sloppy then drain off the excess water (not ideal but sometimes you have to). Now add the eggs, the last of the butter and the chopped herbs (parsley and coriander) then leave to rest for 5 minutes.

3. While it rests, if you're show-boating with whiskery prawns then fry them in a slug of hot oil, about a minute a side should do.

4. Check the seasoning. Pile it up on a fancy warm platter, arrange the whiskery prawns on top, wedges of lemon and lime around the base and serve with a green salad (sharp lemon juice/olive oil dressing), mango chutney and slices of crunchy baguette (or hot buttered toast).

Back to journal