THE AMATEUR WORD NERD: Have some kedgeree and eat like royalty

By Barbara MacAllister

Word of the Day: Kedgeree

Sharp-eyed fans of “Downton Abbey” know the first dish served to the Earl of Grantham in Episode 1, Season 1, was kedgeree, a familiar breakfast offering in England. Pronounced kedge’ er ree,it consists of smoked fish, curried rice, and hard-boiled eggs. Variations use butter, cream or lemon juice in the mixture and the fish is usually haddock, but could be salmon or other fish.
It’s eaten hot or cold but is usually served warm. It was an Indian dish brought back to England during the Victorian era, when returning colonials brought Anglo-Indian cuisine back with them. It became popular under Queen Victoria, who was fascinated with India. The Indian dish was called kichari with various spellings and was traditionally a spiced mixture with lentils and rice. The British added fish, already a typical part of an English breakfast in the form of kippers. (Although any fish can be kippered, they are commonly whole herrings sliced from head to tail and processed.)
Despite being an excellent protein source, it’s hard to find morning meals that feature fish on American menus. New England is the exception with a tradition of fish cakes for breakfast — a mixture of flaked fish, usually cod, breaded and pan fried. Fish cakes can be found in a number of New England restaurants served with eggs for breakfast. If you are tempted to try kedgeree without an overseas visit, there are plenty of recipes available in cookbooks and online, including Mrs. Patmore’s traditional version served to his lordship in “Downton Abbey.”