Take a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and pour in the milk and water.
Add one of the bay leaves and bring the liquid up to a gentle simmer. Gently lay the haddock in the saucepan, skin-side down, and once the simmering returns, poach it gently for 3–4 minutes with the lid on the pan. Turn off the heat and lift the fish out very gently. The delicate handling of the haddock should be compared to that of bathing an infant. The fillets should separate when broken by hand, but with each flake ever so slightly reluctant to separate from its fellows. This all sounds a bit over the top, but if the fish has lost its faint translucence and falls apart with ease, the dish is not going to be so good. Flake all the fish on to a plate, being careful to remove any bones and skin, and put to one side. Allow the milk to cool in a bowl, adding enough water to make it up to 300ml, if necessary. Wash the pan.
Melt the butter in the same saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion with the remaining bay leaf and the cardamom (discard the husks or keep them in sugar, like you would vanilla pods, as this is very pleasant when stirred into a punchy little post-lunch coffee). Fry the onion for 7–10 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until it is very soft and deep golden. Sprinkle in the turmeric and curry powder and cook for a further minute or two before carefully turning the mixture out on to the plate with the fish. Don’t bother cleaning the pan.
Tip the rice into the pan, followed by 300ml of the fish cooking liquid and the saffron, if using. (Using milk to poach the haddock as well as water gives the dish an added richness.) Put a lid on the pan and bring the rice and stock up to a brisk but not out-of-control simmer. Cook the rice for 11 minutes without removing the lid again. Turn off the heat, lift off the lid and put a once-folded napkin or tea towel over the pan before returning the lid as snugly as possible. Left like this for 8 minutes, the cloth will absorb steam from the rice making it good and dry for fluffing.
While the rice is cooking, soft-boil the eggs. Heat another pan filled with just-boiled kettle water. Bring to the boil. Cook the eggs in the rolling water for 5 minutes so that they cross the finish line at the same time as the rice comes off the heat. Drain the eggs and briefly rinse under cold water as you peel them.
Remove the lid and napkin or tea towel from the rice and fluff gently with two forks. Place it over a medium–low heat. Tip in the onions and stir through thoroughly. Follow with the haddock and parsley, taking real care not to bash the fish flakes up too much. When all is nicely warmed and the seasoning has been checked, divide the kedgeree between plates and crown each with a soft egg cut in half and nicely seasoned. Garnish each plate with a lemon wedge. If accompanying with a G and T, Miller’s gin or Sipsmith are my favourites.
Note: Now, on the subject of peas, I like kedgeree both with them and without, but some people get really antsy, saying that peas have no place in the dish at all. Here is a quote from the great food writer Waverley Root on the subject of lobster belonging, or not, in bouillabaisse. For some, it applies when hijacked for kedgeree: ‘A man who does not put lobster in bouillabaisse would starve his children. A man who does would poison wells.’ Do what you like. If you do want peas, pop them in the boiling water before the eggs, then add to the rice.