Indian Spiced Shepherd's Pie
- 2 ¼ lbs sweet potatoes
- 2 tsp sea salt flakes or kosher salt
- 2 tbsp white peppercorns
- 6 cardamom pods, cracked
- peeled strips from 1 lime, preferable un-waxed + juice of ½ lime
- Approx. 1 qt of cold water
- 1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled plus more for filling (see below)
- 3 cloves garlic; peeled
- 1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 onion peeled
- seeds from 6 cardamom pods
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 lb ground lamb preferably organic
- 1 x 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- ¾ cup red lentils
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes or kosher salt
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tsp nibbed or finely chopped pistachios
1) Preheat oven to 425°
2) Start with topping, cutting each of the sweet potatoes into approx. 2-inch chunks
3) Put the unpeeled potato chunks into a large saucepan (with a lid) and add the salt, peppercorns, cracked cardamom pods and lime strips (you don’t need the ginger yet)
4) Add enough cold water (about 1qt.) to cover.
5) Bring to a boil then reduce the heat slightly, cover and cook for about 30-minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
1) Slice garlic and ginger roughly, quarter the onion and put them into the bowl of a food processor with the cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds and whizz until finely chopped. Alternatively use a bowl and a stick blender or just chop everything very finely by hand.
2) Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based pan (with a lid) then tip this paste in.
3) Cook for a few minutes or so to soften, stirring frequently, then stir in the garam masala, red pepper flakes and turmeric, and tip in the ground lamb, turning it in the spiced onion mixture and breaking it up gently.
4) Add the canned tomatoes, then fill the empty can with cold water and, swilling it around, pour this in as well. Stir in the red lentils.
5) Season with salt and Worcestershire sauce, then bring to a boil, clamp on the lid, lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice to stop it catching on the bottom of the saucepan.
6) When the sweet potatoes are cooked, drain them, reserving the liquid and leave until cool enough to peel away the skins. Put the flesh into a wide bowl.
7) Mash the sweet potatoes, using a potato masher or any gadget of your choice (even a fork would do) and slowly beat in some of the potato cooking water – adding as much as you need to make the potatoes a less dense, more spreadable consistency – and squeeze in the juice of half the lime.
8) Grate the peeled ginger onto a plate – I use a coarse microplane grater– then spoon the grated ginger into the center of a piece of paper towel. Moving quickly, pull up the edges of the paper and twizzle them, so you have a little wrapped swag-bag, then squeeze and wring out over the potatoes (an intense ginger juice will drip out). Beat this juice into the potatoes. Check the seasoning, tasting to see if you want any more lime or ginger.
9) Once the lamb filling has had its time, ladle equally between 4 small ovenproof bowls or dishes or approx. 1 ¾ cup capacity (or a larger rectangular dish, measuring approx. 12x8x2 inches deep and 6 ½ cup capacity), and then top with the potatoes, also dividing this equally between the bowls, spreading it to cover the rim of the dishes.
10) Sit the dishes on a baking sheet and place in oven for 10-15 minutes (or, if you’re cooking this in one larger dish, it will need 30-45 minutes). The potatoes should be piping hot (though they won’t get a crust) with the filling bubbling underneath.
11) On serving, sprinkle 1 tsp of nibbed pistachios over each bowl.
The pies can be assembled up to 2 days ahead. As soon as the pies are cool (and within 2 hrs of making), cover each one and refrigerate until needed. Bake for an extra 10-15 minutes making sure the pies are piping hot before serving.
Wrap each pie tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake an extra 10-15 minutes until pies are piping hot.
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