Shepherd’s Pie

Indranil Chowdhury


Shepherd’s Pie is basically a casserole with alternating layer of cooked meat with vegetables and mashed potatoes, and baked in an oven till the top layer of mashed potatoes is well-browned. Meat and potato compliment each other in a dish as evident from our favourite Mangsher Jhol in which the partially submerged piece of halved-potato really tastes awesome.

I first heard of this dish from one of my cousins, Tuli though I never got a chance to taste her preparation. Later on, I tweaked her recipe, adjusted some of the ingredients here and there; nevertheless if someone likes it the credit should go to her.

Traditionally, it originated in Great Britain, where it is usually prepared with lamb or beef. The dish when prepared with beef it is called ‘Cottage Pie’ and with lamb it is called ‘Shepherd’s Pie’.

I prepare it with mutton. Now, here goes the recipe:

Ingredients to cook the meat:
Mutton: 250gms, minced
Onion: 3 medium sized, chopped
Coriander Seeds (whole): 1tbsp
Green Chilli: 2, chopped
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Garlic paste: 1 tsp
(I avoid using ginger or garlic pastes that are available in stores due to the pungent smell of preservatives)
Turmeric: 1 tbsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Lemon juice: 2 tbsp
Sweet peas (frozen): half cup
Sweet corn (frozen): half cup
Salt and sugar: according to taste

Ingredients for mashed potato:
Potatoes: 8 big sized, boiled (to be mashed)
Butter: 25 gms, melted
Milk: 1 cup (to be used in mashed potato)
Cheese: 2-3 cubes, grated (enough to cover topmost layer of the mashed potato in the baking dish)

Heat about 2 tbsp oil, add chopped onions and fry till they attain golden colour. Add chopped chillies and whole coriander seeds, fry till the seeds sputter. Add the minced meat and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, ginger paste, garlic paste and lemon juice. Stir fry further for around 6-7 minutes. Add sweet peas and sweet corn (pre-boiled & frozen). Cook it for 3-4 minutes more and put off the flame.

Now, peel and mash the boiled potatoes and add a cup of milk and melted butter. Add little salt to it. But be careful on the amount of salt since the butter already contains some salt.

Now, assemble the cooked meat and the mashed potato. First, grease a flat baking dish with melted butter. Add a layer of mashed potato, on top of it add the layer of meat and then put the final layer of mashed potato. (If you want to cut down on the starch you can forego the first layer of mashed potato and settle for only one layer of mashed potato, just on the top of the meat.)
Cover every inch of the top layer with grated cheese.
Finally, its time to bake. Pre-heat the oven and bake it at 200 degrees C (or 400 degree F) for about 25 mins (or till the topmost layer turns golden brown in colour). In case you don’t have an OTG but a microwave oven then microwave it for 5 minutes and grill it (in microwave) for another 10-15 mins. Feel free to adjust temperature according to your oven.

Chef’s Tips:
Alternatively, you can make the dish with minced meat of chicken (A Poultry Pie) or fish (A Fisherman’s Pie) or even a vegetarian version with mushroom or paneer cubes but mind you it would no longer be Shepherd’s Pie but a Farmer’s Pie!

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