A bowl of leftover grilled fish and a bunch of kale in the fridge, a bag of rice on the shelf. Need a quick weeknight dinner? Kedgeree’s got your back.

As far back as the 14th century, this basic rice and bean dish was a common staple across southern India; Arab traders took it throughout the Middle East. From the beginning it was quick, cheap and satisfying. British officers from colonial regiments and East India merchants brought the curry-scented rice, Kitchiri, home to England, where it morphed into Kedgeree with the addition of smoked fish, parsley and cream. During the era of lavish Victorian country-house dining, Kedgeree was a popular breakfast item, but now, though still on the scene, it’s served for lunch, supper or picnic fare.

In your bag of kitchen skills, it’s always good to have a rice dish you can pull together at a moment’s notice. All you need on hand is an onion, oil, rice, a few seasonings and some lentils. Leftover fish or canned fish, cooked chicken, assorted veg and herbs invite improvisations.


¼ cup brown lentils

1 large onion, 8-10 oz. half thinly sliced, half chopped

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 tablespoon butter or another tablespoon oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 generous tablespoon fresh ginger, minced, or fine julienne*

4-5 slices Serrano chili with seeds*

1 small cinnamon stick*

2 whole green cardamoms*

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon curry powder*

1 cup Basmati or other long grain rice

1 ¾ cup water or stock


2 cups chunked, cooked fish or 1 can salmon*

small bunch kale, stemmed, sliced, blanched*

fresh cilantro and lime*

*All *items are optional.

Soak lentils for 1 hour or parboil 5 minutes and drain. In a heavy saucepan with lid melt half the butter in 1 tablespoon oil; heat and quickly fry thinly sliced onion until crisply golden. Remove to a small dish and reserve for garnish.

Melt the second half-tablespoon butter in remaining oil and sauté the cinnamon stick and cardamoms and chopped onion until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, chili and sauté until fragrant. Add turmeric, curry powder, rice, and sauté until rice is coated and sizzling. Stir in lentils; add salt and stock. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, top rice with kale (or spinach) and fish (or other leftovers). Return cover and rest for 10 minutes. At this point rice and lentils should be tender and the toppings hot. Fluff rice with fork, mixing in fish and kale. Spoon up servings, garnish with reserved fried onion, chopped cilantro or mint and lime. Serve with plain yogurt. Makes enough for 4. Remember to try it at room temp or just out of the fridge, or pack it along for a picnic.




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