Colonising Khichdi: What Is Britain's Kedgeree?
Image Credit: knifeandsoulrecipes/Instagram

In India, we’re surrounded by reminders of our colonial past. Railways, architecture, the language. But they also took a lot of our culture back with them as well and in particular a love for Indian food. Their National Dish is a testament to that. Another beloved dish that travelled the seas to become a British staple is Kedgeree, or as it was originally known - khichdi.

Eaten from as far back as the 4th century as part of a healthy Ayurvedic diet, Khichdi is well known across India. Every state has its own version of the preparation, but the general recipe always includes rice, lentils, ginger, turmeric and ghee. Vegetables and more spices are often added to that mix, but as a healing, detoxifying dish, it’s usually kept simple. 

During the British rule, the high-ranking officials with Indian cooks were introduced to the dish and it became a regular part of their diet, albeit in a slightly different avatar. While rice remained the core of the dish, they also added hard-boiled eggs were added and replaced the lentils with smoked fish as the protein component. 

The first mention of this new creation was in a 1790 recipe book by Stephana Malcolm whose family had spent much time travelling the world, including India. But this recipe again featured some changes. The fish that was used by the East India Company officials living in India couldn’t be easily sourced in her native Scotland, so was replaced by the local haddock. And in lieu of curry leaves, she added cayenne pepper. 

It held on to its status as a dish for the elite through the 20th century at which point the dissolution of the British Empire opened up these previously ‘aristocratic’ dishes to the public. Today it’s a frequent choice for breakfast or brunch menus and can be served hot or cold. Although there are vast differences between the dish we know and the dish they took with them, Kedgeree still stands as a testament to Britain’s long and convoluted cultural relationship with India.

Image Credits: Rosiefoodie/Instagram



  • 4 large eggs
  • 170 gms basmati rice, well rinsed
  • 500 gms smoked haddock (tinned tuna or sardines can be used as a substitute)
  • 200 gms ounces of milk
  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped  flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Gently lower the eggs into the water. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid for 10 minutes.
  • Peel the eggs and set them aside.
  • In a large saucepan, add the rice, 1 cup of cold water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. 
  • Continue to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.
  • Have about 3 cups of boiling water ready. Place the fish in another large saucepan. Add the milk to the pan with enough boiling water to completely cover the fish. 
  • Bring the fish to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, uncovered, until the thickest part of the fish turns opaque about 6 minutes.
  • Remove the fish from the milk. Discard the milk. When the fish is cool enough to handle, break into large chunks, discarding any bones and skin. Set aside.
  • If using canned fish, drain away the oil or salt water and break the chunks up with a fork.
  • Melt the butter in a large, Dutch oven or heavy-duty casserole dish. Add the onions, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften about 10 minutes.
  • Add the curry powder, cardamom pods, and bay leaves. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the prepared rice. Stir to combine.
  • Rice, curry powder, cardamom pods, and bay leaves in a pot of onions
  • Gently fold in the fish.
  • Quarter the eggs. Gently fold 3 of the quartered eggs into the rice.
  • Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with the remaining quartered egg, parsley, and lemon wedges, if using.