Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s Pie
With Mashed Red Lentils
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Well, it’s 3:00 in the morning and I didn’t plan on being here. A very boisterous 4 year old will be waking me up in about 4 hours and dragging me downstairs to play, so I really ought to be sleeping. But I was struck by an idea a few days ago, and when I say struck, I want you to think of a runaway freight train. When I get an idea in my head, I don’t usually let it go, and it generally means a lot of work in my future. Fortunately, this time it also meant a lot of really great food.
Did you know that Canada grows lentils? And not just a few either – we grow more than anyone in the world. Despite this, we don’t really eat a whole lot of them, and that, my dear readers, is a ridiculous shame. Lentils are incredibly tasty, versatile, simple to use, and inexpensive. Recently, in an effort to raise the public awareness (and adoration of) lentils, Canadian lentil producers have teamed up with Chef Michael Smith to encourage home cooks to put together a video starring themselves cooking a lentil dish of their own.
Now that’s a great idea, but a) I found out about it a week ago, b) I had no lentil recipes on my site yet, and c) lentils aren’t really part of this month’s green/Chinese veggie themes. But the idea of the contest just sat there in my head. All of the sudden, on Thursday afternoon, this recipe just hit me. A bunch of classic Indian ingredients – lentils, Indian spices, and lamb – but blended with a simple home-cooking classic. It’s simple but surprising comfort food, and it’s incredibly tasty. The red lentil mash is a welcome change from the usual potato, and the combination of Indian spices, lamb, and vegetables is… well, iconic. How could I not make it? How could I NOT enter the contest? Oh, did I mention that the contest closes today? No, I didn’t mention that, because it’s the middle of the night and my thought processes are unraveling.
Ah well, the things we do for the love of food.
So, here it is – my first EVER video and official entry into the Love Lentils Star of the Show contest. Let me emphasize that again so that you’ll go easy on me – this is my first video ever. It was certainly an experience. I’d love to say it was fun, but to be honest, the amount of stuff I had to figure out over a few short days was mind-boggling. The cooking part was fun. The eating part was really fun. The next video will be fun (?).
I hope you’ll check out the video and tell me what you think. I also hope you’ll try this shepherd’s pie out, because I promise you it’s spectacular. Don’t forget to share and look out for other lentil recipes on Twitter and Instagram (#lovelentils).
Lastly, I really hope you’ll head out to the store and buy some lentils, because they deserve our love.
Don’t let the longish list of ingredients throw you off – this is actually really easy to make. There are a few extra spices, but they’re all quite common and easy to find. The onions, garlic, and ginger are used in multiple places, so they appear several times in the ingredient list, so all-in-all it’s actually not that daunting.
Make sure you use red lentils for this dish, and not another variety. Red lentils disintegrate entirely upon cooking, meaning you don’t actually mash them at all. Many other lentils hold their lovely little shapes when they cook, meaning you’d be left with a very different looking end product.
Check out my video on youtube for a very brief walkthrough of the steps used to make this dish.
Nutritional info is given for a single serving (1/8th total recipe).
No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
Classic Indian ingredients - lentils, spices & lamb - meet home-cooked comfort food in this delicious shepherd's pie.
- 1.5 cups red lentils
- 1/2 small onion minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp ginger minced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1.25 cups water
- 1/2 cup yogurt (preferably a thick Greek yogurt)
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1.5 lbs lean ground or minced lamb
- 1.5 cups peas frozen or fresh
- 2 large carrots diced (medium cubes), about 1.5 cups total
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 small onion minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp ginger minced
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup tomato paste (1 small can)
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt half of the butter/ghee over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and onions, and sauté until fragrant and starting to colour slightly; about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the lentils, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook the lentils, uncovered, until soft. If the liquid has all been absorbed and the lentils are still a little firm, add a splash of water, but take care not to add too much or the mash will be soggy. The finished lentils should basically fall apart, and shouldn't need any mashing.
- Stir the remaining butter/ghee and the yogurt. Season the finished lentils with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside.
- Heat a large, heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the spices to the pan and dry roast them until they're fragrant; about 1 minute. Transfer the roasted spices to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and crush to a powder.
- In the same pan, melt the butter/ghee over medium high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and minced onions and sauté until fragrant and starting to colour slightly; about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the spices back to the pan along with the thinly sliced onions and stir to combine. Sauté over medium heat for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. If the onions begin to burn at all, reduce the heat and/or add a bit more butter.
- In a separate large pot, brown the lamb and drain the excess fat. Add the peas, carrots, onion/spice mix, and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick and darkened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Spread the meat/veggie mixture evenly in a large 11x7 inch baking dish. Carefully pour the mashed lentils over the meat and veggies and spread it evenly to the edges.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are a nice golden brown colour.
- Allow the finished shepherd's pie to cool for 10 minutes, then serve with a little extra Greek yogurt, or perhaps a little chopped cilantro.
If you add too much liquid to your lentils, you can try either straining the mixture briefly, or adding about 1 tsp of cornstarch to help thicken things up a little bit.