This is a dish with its roots deep in Empire, an Anglo-Indian classic that evolved from khichri, a fragrant mix of lentils, rice, herbs and spices. This obviously omits the fish, but the dish is as rich as it is regal. Do try to use fresh curry leaves, as they make all the difference. They're easy to find in Indian shops, and I've seen them in some large supermarkets too. If you really can't get hold of fresh, use double the amount of dried.THE INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
Half a small squash (about 400g), peeled, deseeded and diced; 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; 1 teaspoon ground tumeric; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ground coriander; 40g raisins; 25g unsalted butter; 2 shallots, diced; 2 garlic cloves, sliced; a small thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and grated; 5 fresh curry leaves, or 10 dried; Half teaspoon fennel seeds; 1 teaspooon medium curry powder; a pinch of saffron; 1 tablespoon tomato puree; 2 tablespoon tomato puree; 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar; 100g basmati rice; 100g green or black lentils; 400ml vegetable stock; 100m double cream; 4 eggs at room temperatureTO SERVE
A small bunch of coriander, chopped (reserve a few springs for decoration); 1 green chilli, sliced (optional); 40g flaked almonds, toasted.THE RECIPE
Toss the squash and cauliflower in a large roasting tray with vegetable oil, tumeric, cumin, coriander and a pinch of salt and pepper, then place in an oven heated at 220°/ Gas Mark 7 and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft throughout and charred in places.
Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a heavy-based casserole pan and fry the shallots, garlic and ginger over a low heat until soft, translucent and fragrant, but not browning. Add the curry leaves, fennel seeds, curry powder, saffron, tomato puree and white wine vinegar then cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly to give the spices a chance to toast.
Stir in the rice and lentils and pour in the vegetable stock. Increase the heat to medium to bring the pan to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes to reduce most of the liquid, then stir in the double cream, turn the heat back down to low and cover the pan with a lid for a final 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the rice and lentils to rest and absorb the cooking liquid for 10 minutes.
During this time, half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Carefully add the eggs to the water and cook for 5 minutes, then put them into cold water to cool. Once cool, peel and keep aside.> Stir the squash and cauliflower into the rice and lentils. Taste the kedgeree and adjust the seasoning. Divide between warm plates and top each portion with some coriander (keep a few leaves back for decoration), green chilli (if using) and flaked almonds. Place a soft-boiled egg on top, then crack over some black pepper and put a spring of coriander over each egg.