The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE -

The In­dian Ocean was a prime hunt­ing ground for whalers as well as New Eng­land mer­chant ships in search of ex­otic spices, tea, and cof­fee. In­dian cui­sine pro­foundly in­flu­enced Bri­tish cook­ing, ow­ing to Eng­land’s long im­pe­rial pres­ence in the Sub­con­ti­nent. New Eng­land house­holds sub­se­quently in­her­ited many of these In­dian-in­spired dishes, such as cur­ries and chut­neys, which ap­pear in nu­mer­ous old Yan­kee cook­books. Among the In­dian spe­cial­ties fa­vored dur­ing the time of the Bri­tish Raj was kedgeree, a mash-up of smoked fish, curry, rice, and eggs. The tasty combo is a culi­nary de­scen­dent of khichari, a mod­est, In­dian peas­ant dish of rice and lentils. Yan­kee ship cap­tain Isaac Hib­bard in his mem­oir, “Six­teen Times Round Cape Horn” re­called a sim­i­lar dish of cod­fish mixed with rice some­times served on Satur­days. Oddly enough, fresh fish— an eas­ily ob­tain­able re­source— was rarely served on board whalers, for the same rea­sons many diet-con­scious din­ers en­joy fish to­day.

“Fish doesn’t have many calo­ries and wasn’t re­ally re­garded as a gen­uine source of protein,” said Oliver. Work­ing on board a whaler or clip­per ship was hard work, she ob­served, and sailors needed all the fats and carbs they could get.

“If you’re sail­ing through the Arc­tic or you are round­ing Cape Horn, you are burn­ing calo­ries as fast as you ab­sorb

Put the rice and a ½ pint of cold wa­ter to­gether with a pinch of salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Re­duce the heat to a sim­mer, cover with a lid, and cook for 5 min­utes. Re­move the pan from the heat and keep the lid on for a fur­ther 10 min­utes.

Mean­while, melt the but­ter in a large pan, add the onion, cover with a lid, and cook gen­tly un­til the onions are soft, ap­prox­i­mately 10 min­utes.

While the onions cook, place the fish in an­other large saucepan and cover with the milk; if the milk doesn’t cover the fish add a lit­tle boil­ing wa­ter. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and sim­mer the fish, un­cov­ered, for 6 min­utes or un­til the thick­est part of the fish turns opaque. Take the fish from the milk and re­move any skin and bones.

Add the curry pow­der, car­damom, and bay leaves to the onions and cook for 2 min­utes, then add the rice. Stir well.

Flake the fish in to large chunks, add to the rice and onions. Quar­ter the cooked eggs, add to the rice and stir gen­tly. Add the lemon juice, sea­son with a lit­tle salt and pep­per and stir again. Sprin­kle with the chopped pars­ley and serve im­me­di­ately.

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