Indian spiced shepherd's pie with lamb and mashed red lentils in place of the more familiar potato topping -

Indian Spiced Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Red Lentils

In Recipe by Sean13 Comments

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.

Recipe Notes

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).

Nutrition Facts
Indian Spiced Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Red Lentils
Amount Per Serving
Calories 478 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 40%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 74mg 25%
Sodium 242mg 10%
Potassium 728mg 21%
Total Carbohydrates 33g 11%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 8g
Protein 27g 54%
Vitamin A 82%
Vitamin C 23%
Calcium 6%
Iron 26%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

LOADED with protein, low in sodium, and low in carbohydrates, this is some healthy comfort food.

Lamb and a fair bit of butter means the saturated fat levels are a little high.  Make sure to drain the fat from the lamb as it cooks to get a cleaner, leaner meal.

Ingredient Pages

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.

Pantry Pages

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.

  • Gluten free
  • Inexpensive
5 from 1 vote
Indian spiced shepherd's pie with lamb and mashed red lentils in place of the more familiar potato topping -
Indian Spiced Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Red Lentils
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Resting Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins

Classic Indian ingredients - lentils, spices & lamb - meet home-cooked comfort food in this delicious shepherd's pie. 

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Canadian, European, Indian, North American
Keyword: indian shepherds pie, lamb, low carb, red lentils
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 478 kcal
Lentil Mash
  • 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
Meat and Vegetables
  • 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
Lentil Mash
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir the remaining butter/ghee and the yogurt. Season the finished lentils with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside.
Meat and Veggies
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Combine and Bake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. 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.
  3. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are a nice golden brown colour.
  4. 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.
Recipe Notes

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.

More Indian Recipes

Okra Kuzhambu

Okra Kuzhambu (South Indian Curry)

Beet Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer with Beet & Horseradish Greens

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  1. Can’t wait to try this! Was just at Fruiticana yesterday- should have bought red lentils.

    1. Author

      Thanks Hazel! I picked up organic ones from the bulk bins at Pricesmart. Fortunately they’re pretty easy to find (and even easier to use).

  2. Love the video Sean. Will try this soon looks yummy. Enjoying your blog.

    1. Author

      Thanks Jeff! It was certainly an adventure to make (and I’ve now mostly recovered from staying up until 3:30 AM finishing it — two little kids in the house means I don’t get to catch up on sleep too easily). Shepherd’s pie is such classic comfort food, but the Indian twist is really a great change up.

  3. I had this tonight, Sean, and it was delicious. I tweaked it a little, added more spices tour the flavor. I forgot to put the yogurt in the lentil mixture but it came out fine anyway. I did serve it with a yogurt and garam masala sauce. My husband is happy to have plenty of leftovers for more dinners and lunches.

    1. Author

      Thanks so much Marlene! I’m so glad you tried it – it’s awesome to know that people are trying (and enjoying) my recipes. And yeah, we enjoyed the leftovers for a few days too – it’s a perfect meal for that!

    1. Author

      Thank you Carolyn! Honestly, I’ve had so many late nights and early mornings now that this one is basically a distant memory. Fortunately the food itself is still fresh in mind! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  4. This recipe looks absolutely delicious and I would really like to try it! My daughter and I can’t have any sort of dairy though. Do you think I would be able to leave the Greek yogurt out or sub for some coconut milk instead?

    1. Author

      Thanks for the compliment Leslie! The greek yogurt is really a finishing touch – I think the creamy/tangy flavour works nicely with the rich spices and the lamb. That being said, I’m sure you could find a good substitute! There are good vegan cashew-based yogurts out there that would probably work nicely. Whipped unsweetened coconut milk would be an interesting choice too – these spices have a fairly North Indian flare, but the coconut milk could push things in a more South Indian direction. That’s not a bad thing mind you – in fact it could be a very cool way to change things up. And ultimately, even if you don’t use a yogurt or yogurt substitute at all, this is still very tasty. Something a little tangy (e.g. a chutney or tamarind sauce) might be another great way to switch it up and balance out the whole dish. I say, go with your gut! 😀

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