I did a shepherd’s pie last week and I had this brain storm about an Indian shepherd’s pie, curry topped with cauliflower and potatoes. My guests last week were not into spices, so I put it off. This weekend my family definitely was and here is what I produced.
Note: As was pointed out to me, again, this is not a shepherd’s pie, but more a chicken rancher’s pie because it has chicken curry as a base.
A shepherd’s pie is really two dishes in one. The stew below and a crust of mashed vegetables on top. Each dish could be served as a separate dish, but I am adapting an English form.
Karl’s Indian Shepherd’s Pie
Karl’s Methi Murg (Chicken Curry with Fresh Fenugreek)
4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 Tbs. butter, separate uses
1½ lb. chicken, boneless breast and/or thighs
1 Tbs. cumin seeds
1 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 onions, finely chopped
½ lb. methi (fresh fenugreek), coarsely chopped
1 Jalapeño, minced
4 Tbs. ginger/garlic paste*
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. Karl’s Garam Masala
Pinch Kosher salt
½ tsp. chives, snipped
* Note: I have had trouble with annoying chunks of ginger in my sauces, mincing and even using a blender, have not enough (yes, I have had complaints). Although my mantra is “fresh is better,” I am trying the ginger/garlic paste from the Indian store for this dish.
1. Seed and chop the tomatoes. Put them in a standing blender and process to a smooth puree. Pour into a bowl and
Tip: Scrape the seeds into a sieve over a small bowl and press the jelly out to return it to the tomatoes. Much of the tomato flavor is in this jelly. Discard the seeds.
Note: I have been peeling my tomatoes and I have noticed that my sauces seem a bit washed out. Today I am trying leaving the skin on to see if it helps with the color.
2. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
3. Melt the one tablespoon of butter in a large pot over a medium heat and cook the chicken until just starting to brown. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool.
4. Add the rest of the butter and the chopped onion to the pot, without cleaning it. Sauté the onions until they are just starting to pick up some color.
8. Add the methi and Jalapeño pepper and cook for one more minute.
9. Add the ginger/garlic paste, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Simmer for 10 minutes until starting to thicken.
10. Return the chicken to the pot and add the garam masala. Check the seasoning and season to taste.
11. Pour the curry into a deep baking pan leaving at least ½ to ¾ of an inch for the pie crust.
Karl’s Mashed Gobi Aloo (Indian Mashed Cauliflower and Potatoes)
1 head of cauliflower
1 tsp. cumin seeds, separate uses
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. coriander seeds
2-4 Tbs. butter (you may use clarified butter)
3 Tbs. ginger/garlic paste
1 tsp. Karl’s Garam Masala
½ tsp chili powder
½+ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground turmeric
Pinch Kosher salt
¾ cup milk (you may use cream, yogurt, or buttermilk)
1. Chop the cauliflower into florets.
2. Add the cauliflower, cumin and coriander to a medium pot.
3. Add water to cover and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is very soft, about 20-30 minutes.
Tip: The cauliflower and potatoes may be done in separate pots if you do not mind the extra cleanup. If you do this, double the cumin and coriander in the boiling water.
4. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon, set aside and let cool
Tip: Reserve the cooking liquid for cooking the potatoes.
5. Quarter the potatoes lengthwise and then slice them into half inch chunks. Add the potatoes to the seasoned water in the pot.
6. When the potatoes are done, about 30 minutes, drain the pot, cover, and set aside.
7. Add the butter, the ginger/garlic paste, chili, paprika and turmeric to a small pot and cook for 30 seconds.
8. Add the milk and cook stirring for another minute to bloom the flavors.
9. Stir in the garam masala and salt. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool slightly.
10. Mash the cauliflower in a medium bowl.
Tip: I found a pastry cutter to be perfect for this task, giving you a fine mince without turning the cauliflower into mush.
11. Put one egg into a measuring cup and lightly scramble it. Add some of the cauliflower to temper the egg and then add half of the milk mixture to the cup. Mix thoroughly.
12. Add the egg/milk mixture to the cauliflower in the bowl and stir briefly to combine the ingredients.
13. Put the cauliflower into a gallon plastic bag and trim off one corner. Squeeze the cauliflower out of the bag and onto half of the chicken curry in the baking pan.
Note: My original intention was to fold the cauliflower and potatoes together a bit before topping the stew. However my son-in-law is still on his ketogenic diet. I am therefore doing a half and half topping, cauliflower on one side and potatoes on the other, so that everybody is happy.
14. Mash or rice the potatoes into the same bowl that you used for the cauliflower.
15. Put the second egg into the measuring cup and lightly scramble it. Add some of the potatoes to temper the egg and then add the rest of the milk mixture to the cup. Mix thoroughly
16. Add the egg/milk mixture to the potatoes in the bowl and stir briefly to combine the ingredients. Add extra milk, cream or yogurt, if needed
Note: Be careful not to overwork the potatoes or they will turn “gluey.”
17. Put the potatoes into the same gallon plastic bag that you used for the cauliflower. Squeeze the potatoes out of the bag and onto the other half of the chicken curry in the baking pan.
Tip: If you do not have picky eaters you may gently fold the cauliflower and potatoes together before “piping” it over the curry. My plan was not to completely blend the cauliflower and potatoes, but to have discreet pockets of each layered throughout the crust.
18. Sprinkle some paprika over the crust and put the baking pan into a 450º F oven, for 20 minutes to heat through and brown the top of the crust.
Tip: If you are doing a half and half, sprinkle some chives over the potato side for easy identification just before you are done baking the dish.
19. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve.