This is a very British breakfast dish, though I think it an excellent lunch or evening meal too. It was invented in India for army officers by an Irish cook. Or so it has been said. Apparently the name is derived and the dish adapted from an Indian dish named kichri or khichdi . The addition of eggs, smoked fish and bechamel sauce are all said to be variations on the original, which was a sort of spiced porridge of rice, lentils and vegetables.
I learned this one from my Irish grandmother, who used to make it when she was “in Service” back before the war. Over the years I have made some adaptions of my own. I don’t think hers had onion. My béchamel is a little different from her white sauce. Other recipes use cream or yoghurt and long grain rice and are lighter and less “stodgy” than this one.
- 3 or 4 fillets of boneless smoked fish of a flaky variety,
- 600 ml of milk,
- 2 or 3 Bay leaves
- 1 slice of onion
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cracked
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon mace
- 6 cups cooked short grain or arborio rice cooked witha teaspoon of tumeric
- 6-8 hard boiled eggs
- 2 cups chopped parsley
- Salt & pepper
Cook the fish in the milk with the bay, onion, mace curry powder and cracked pepper.
When the milk is boiling, remove it from the heat, cover with a lid, and leave it to cool and infuse for at least half an hour (The fish will cook).
When it is cool, remove the fish and strain the milk into a jug to remove the bay leaves and other bits.
Break the fish up into pieces, cover and put aside while you make the bechamel.
- 600 ml of milk in which the fish was cooked (above)
- 50 g butter
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
In a frying pan melt the butter and fry the onion until translucent
Stir in the flour and mustard powder, fry it for a few minutes. Do not let it brown.
Remove from the heat, and with a whisk, stir in the milk until it is smooth.
Return to the heat and whisk until the sauce boils and thickens.
- Add 2 cups chopped parsley (can substitute coriander for more “Asian” flavour).
- Add freshly ground nutmeg,
- adjust salt and pepper to taste
Assemble the dish
Mix the onion/parsley bechamel sauce into a casserole dish with
- the cooked fish
- 6 cups cooked short grain or Arborio rice.
- 6 – 8 hard boiled eggs shelled and quartered
- sprinkle some paprika on top.
Cover and keep warm in a low oven or electric frypan/bain-marie until ready to serve
Serve on hot, heavily buttered toast, or with fresh crusty bread and butter.