Spiced Shepherds Pie
Serves 2 as a generous main
450 g | 1lb minced lamb
1 large onion
½ tightly packed tablespoon grated ginger
½ tightly packed tablespoon grated garlic
1 ½ teaspoons Kathmandu Masala
½ teaspoon crushed dry chillies
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 medium chopped fresh tomatoes
60ml / ¼ cup cold pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon Salt plus to taste
900g / 2 lb floury potatoes
60ml / ¼ cup vegetable oil
55g / 2 oz Butter
1 teaspoon whole cumin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 spring onions
Finely chop the onion
Finely chop the tomatoes
Peel the potatoes leaving them fairly large chunks roughly 4-6 cm | 2-3 inch in diameter Clean and chop the spring onions
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160oC fan | 350oF | Gas 4 | moderate Aga
Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with salted water (a similar saltiness to sea water is perfect). Put the lid on the pan and bring potatoes to the boil then cook for 15 minutes until potatoes are 2/3 cooked - test the potatoes with a knife, the outside should be soft while the centre should still have some resistance. Drain, reserving the cooking water and allow them to cool while you cook the mince.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy bottomed pan or wok until it just starts to give off a mustardy aroma. Add the lamb and stir-fry until the meat is almost cooked through. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and Kathmandu masala. Continue to stir-fry until all the liquid from the meat has dried. Add some of the potato cooking water (roughly 180 ml / ¾ cup) to lift the juices and any stuck meat from the pan and continue to cook until the sauce has dried again. Add in the fresh chopped tomatoes and tomato purée then stir-fry to allow the tomatoes to release their juices. Once again allow the lamb mixture to dry and just as it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan taste it. Add 250 ml / 1 cup of leftover potato water (the leftover potato water is salted so if there’s enough salt in the mince for you just use plain water instead) stir well and cook until the sauce around the mince thickens to a
gravy. Take the mince off the heat and immediately turn into an oven proof dish big enough to allow for an inch gap at the top, set the mixture aside to cool.
While the lamb mince is cooling clean and dry the pan and warm it on a medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and the butter until the butter is just melted then add the whole Cumin seeds allowing the oil mixture to foam until the butter just starts to brown. Tip the
potatoes into the brown butter and stir-fry a little before adding the ground Cumin and spring onions. Fry the potato mixture turning gently every once in a while so all the potato is covered with butter and Cumin. It’s fine if a little of a potato starts to brown on the bottom of the pan. Once this happens take the potatoes off the heat and add the spring onions. Spoon the potato mixture over the lamb, pressing very gently to form a seal around the dish, while letting the potato to be rough and lumpy on top (this will make your topping crunchy). Bake the pie for 25-35 minutes, until the potato top is golden and crispy, rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Cool the pie as quickly as you can, cover with baking parchment and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Cool the pie as quickly as you can. If you’re not using a freezer proof oven dish cover the pie with baking parchment then place in a plastic bag before freezing. Defrost before cooking.
To cook from chilled
Unwrap the pie and let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. You don’t need to preheat the oven before baking the pie from cold but you do need to increase the cooking time to 40-45 minutes, until the potato top is golden and the lamb is piping hot all the way through.