Whenever I think of ideal comfort food for a family meal or big gathering, I know for sure that either lasagna or shepherd’s pie will be my choice because they never fail to please the crowd. Shepherd’s Pie is basically a hearty and rustic traditional British dish . It is lamb mince cooked with vegetables and then baked encased in a mashed potato crust till golden on top.

Shepherd’s pie is essentially made with lamb mince, whereas in Cottage Pie beef mince is used. The same pie when baked in Chile is called “pastel de papa” and also includes hard boiled eggs, raisins and olives. It sounds so tempting that I’m planning to make this Chilean version next time.

During the Raj era in the subcontinent a new culture emerged in India-the Anglo Indian culture. A generation with mixed European and Indian parentage adopted the mannerism, religion, clothing and food from both their parents. The Anglo Indian cuisine modified the traditional British cuisine by addition of local spices and cooking methods and became one of the first successful fusion foods in the world.

This delicious Anglo Indian Shepherd’s Pie is a fusion of lamb mince cooked curry style, what we call Qeema Gajjar Mattar, with gooey mashed potatoes on top. I make mine with cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilli powder to give the mince a depth of flavour and kick from heat that my South Asian palate finds missing from the traditional recipe otherwise.

I also add a little cumin, red chilli flakes and local fresh herbs to the mashed potatoes for a more flavourful finish. I don’t make a very dry curry so that my pie stays a bit moist. This way you won’t need a gravy to pour over it separately. Once you have tried making this Anglo Indian Shepherd’s Pie, I bet you will never like it any other way!

This is an ideal recipe to use left over roasted or cooked meat too as in the early days when the mincing machine was not in the scene yet, this pie was prepared with meat chopped by hand or from left overs. As my kids are not very fond of red meat, I convert the recipe to chicken mince too at times, which makes it even quicker to cook.


For Anglo Indian Shepherd’s Pie:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped
1/2 kg lamb/chicken mince
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato puree
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup peas
1 green chilli pepper
1 tablespoon flour

For Mashed Potatoes:

1 kg potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed
1/2 cup full cream milk
1/2 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/2 cup fresh coriander and mint leaves, chopped
salt to season the potatoes

This Is What You Do:

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the onion and fry till golden.

Add the lamb/chicken mince, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5-6 minutes or till the mince changes colour.

Add salt, red chillies, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and black pepper.
Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Add tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup water for chicken, 1/2 cup water for lamb mince.

Reduce heat, cover the pan and allow to simmer till the mince is done and liquids sufficiently reduced but not completely dry. Almost 20 minutes for chicken and 45 minutes for lamb mince.

Half way through cooking, add the vegetables.

When the mince and vegetables are cooked, remove the lid and add flour, mix with mince so that the remaining liquid in the pan makes a thick sauce with flour.

Add chopped green chilli and remove from heat.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Spread the mince and vegetable mix in a lightly greased casserole dish.

Heat milk and butter in a microwave till warm and melted. Mix with mashed potatoes. Add the yolks, herbs, chilli flakes and cumin seeds to potatoes. Season with salt. Mix to make a soft, smooth, spreadable mash.

Scoop out spoonfuls of the mashed potato and spread them on top of the mince. Wet a spatula and use it to spread the mash out into a smooth, even layer over the mince mix right to the edges of the dish. You can make a pattern over the potatoes with a knife or spoon if you like.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until golden on top.

Serve warm.

Serves 6

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