10 December 2004
Yesterday, I spoke of wasting a couple of hours going into university for a five-minute conversation, at a time when I canít afford the time.
Today, I had an interview booked with the BBC. The Beebís studio is right across the park from my house, a slow five-minute saunter. But today my beloved Julia was doing her show live from the Sunderland Empire, which meant that a half-hour commitment promised a month ago became a four-hour epic. Quite how a man is meant to work under these conditions, I cannot imagine. Still, I did get to see ĎStarlight Expressí in dress rehearsal; just a couple of minutes of that was enough to convince me that I really, really donít want to see the whole show. And me a man who loves musicals, and is not averse to fit young things parading their blading skills in gaudy costumes either. Oblige me by sitting there and trying to imagine how bad it has to be...
Well done. Your reward is another recipe for kedgeree. This one is, as it were, a legitimate bastard: a clean cross between true Indian khichri and the Rajís favourite fish dish.
Skin a fillet of naturally smoked haddock. Cut away all the skinny and frilly bits, chop them up and put them in a pan with just enough milk to cover. Add a couple of whole cloves and a few bits of cassia bark, bring slowly to a simmer and then fish out the fish and reserve. Discard the spices, but reserve the liquid.
Cut the thick chunky part of the fillet into thick chunky slices, and put to marinate in lemon juice mixed with half a teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of chilli powder.
Put 100g of whole mung beans in a pan with 250ml water and half a teaspoon of turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer until all the water is absorbed; the beans should be al dente, cooked through but still with a little bite to them, a nutty kind of texture.
Boil another 100g of basmati rice, again to that point where itís still got a little bite.
Melt a couple of tablespoons of ghi in a pan and fry a teaspoon of cumin seeds until they brown. Add one finely-sliced onion with an inch of slivered ginger and a couple of sliced green chillies, and soften over a low heat. Add the mung bean dal and the fishy milk; mix in one chopped tomato and a couple of handfuls of chopped coriander; cook for a couple of minutes and stir in the rice; finally add the reserved frilly fishy bits and turn the heat off.
Put a little oil into a very hot pan and flash fry the thick chunky fish slices. Youíre aiming for brown & crispy on the outside and barely-cooked within. Give up on colour rather than overcook.
Heap the rice-and-beans onto a plate, top with the fried fish and balance a poached egg over all.
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.