Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

I have been inundated with requests for the recipe of the Shepherd’s Pie that I posted on Facebook yesterday. Through Facebook and WhatsApp. I only tried it out as an experiment as I was tired of the usual sambar, thoran, etc. So I thought that I’d try out something different, but keep the load light on Hari. It turned out so well that my driver, my yoga teacher and decided to go in for second helpings – something they never do. Yes, some of my friends are surprised that there can be a vegan Shepherd’s pie – but vegans are very innovative. My recipe was inspired by The Minimalist Baker, whose recipe I customised avoiding all oil and using some substitute ingredients.

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked lentils (any yellow or green lentils, I used whole mung), washed and drained
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme). Since I did not have any thyme, I used dried fenugreek greens (kasuri methi)
50 gms each of peas, carrots, French beans and corn kernels (since corn is now out of season, I used pumpkin)
350 gms potatoes
2 tsp vegan butter (I used cashew butter)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice any large potato into half
Add the potatoes into a bowl and boil with just enough water to cover them
They must be well cooked – a knife should pass through easily
Drain and transfer back to the stove to remove excess moisture
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add cashew butter and salt and pepper
Mash well
Cover and set aside
While potatoes are cooking, pre-heat oven to 200°C
Grease a baking dish and set aside
Meanwhile, heat a pan or wok and saute onion and garlic, till the onion is slightly browned
About 5 minutes
Add a pinch of salt and pepper
Add the lentils, water and fenugreek greens
Bring to a boil and reduce flame to simmer
Continue cooking till the lentils are soft
When the lentils are about three quarter cooked, add the chopped vegetables
Cover and continue cooking till the lentils are done
If your liquid is too watery, add a  tbsp of the mashed potatoes and stir well
Alternatively, you can stir in a tbsp of rice flour or arrowroot powder
Any of these methods will thicken the gravy
Taste the seasonings and adjust to suit your taste
Remove from flame and transfer to the baking dish
Layer the top with the mashed potatoes
Smooth down with a fork or spoon
Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the top
Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or till the potatoes are slightly browned
Remove from oven and cool slightly
Serve hot

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