September 29, 2008

Vegetarian Shepherd’s (or Shepherdess’s) Pie

Printable version here.

This “Book Makes Me Cook” is a monthly read and cook event where this month’s book (chosen by Simran) was any book from the Harry Potter series. A small group of bloggers get together every month to read a chosen book and then cook something that was inspired by that book. I joined them this month to see what I could come up with.
Ever since J K Rowling announced that she was putting a stop to the Harry Potter saga with the 7th book, Potter Mania seems to have eased off worldwide.

My daughter used to be quite “potty” about Potter, as I used to tease her. She got me to read all the seven books (plus the two about some mystical beasts and another one I now forget) and my husband and I have sat with her through all the Potter movies, except the last one!

While all this didn’t make me a Harry Potter fan, I could see why children and so many adults found the books so fascinating.
The books are full of passages featuring food. Students at Hogwart’s Academy are always served dinner at tables that are laden with food. And Ron’s fascination for the weird sweet stuff sold on Hogwat’s express. The dinners served by Harry’s aunt (usually as punishment decreed by his uncle) are a contrast to the meals that Ron’s mother, Molly Weasley, juggles up out of the thin air. Now this is one feat I wish I could manage on those “what to cook?” days that I often have!

I couldn’t quite figure out what to cook as Chocolate Frogs, Cockroach Clusters, Broomstick Salad, Tooth Flossing String Mints, Jelly Slugs and the like weren’t exactly my sort of thing. Of course there was nicer and real food like butter beer, treacle fudge, chocolate gateaux but I wanted to cook something savoury. Now most of the real food mentioned in the books are typically English and many are non-vegetarian.

So I finally settled on a Shepherd’s Pie (in a vegetarian version) which I believe was on the menu at Hogwart’s. I understand that a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is sometimes called a Shepherdess’s Pie!!
I adapted Delia’s Vegetarian Shepherd Pie to suit us here is my version.


2 ½ cups well mashed potaoes

¼ cup grated cheese

25 g butter, softened

salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste

½ cup cooked black eyed beans

¼ cup cooked (not very mushy) split yellow lentils (tuvar dal)

¼ cup cooked whole moong beans

1 ½ cup chopped vegetables (carrots, peas, cabbage, green beans)

2 onions, finely chopped

2 small tomatoes, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper (capsicum), finely chopped

½ tsp garlic paste

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

½ tsp herbs (I used thyme, parsley and basil)

salt to taste

1 ½ tsp oil


Lightly mash the cooked beans and lentils. Keep aside.
Heat the oil and add the garlic paste and chopped onions. Sauté till the onions are soft and light brown. Add the tomatoes and cook till soft. Add the chilli and cumin powders and cook for a minute. Now add the bell pepper/ capsicum and the steamed vegetables and cook for another minute. Add the mashed beans and lentils, salt, the grated nutmeg and the herbs. Mix well and cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat.
Now pour this mixture into an oven safe dish (about 8”by 8”) and smoothen it out.

In another bowl, put the mashed potatoes, grated cheese, butter, salt and pepper and mix everything well. Spread this mashed potato mixture on top of the bean-vegetable mixture making sure it is an even layer. You may smoothen the top, or use a fork to score the mashed potato layer decoratively. Alternatively, pipe the mashed potato in an attractive pattern.

Bake at 190C for about 30 minutes till the top is brown.
Serve warm. This recipe serves 4.

You can see that my Shepherd’s Pie is looking a bit anaemic! I baked the pie for about 35 minutes and didn’t see too much browning happening. Never having baked this before, I didn’t want to over bake the pie and end up with a “tough as leather” potato layer. But after eating it (it was good), I think the pie can be safely baked for another 15 minutes till it browned well.

I take consolation in the fact that though my pie didn’t look so nice, it tasted very good. At least it’s not in the same class as Hagrid’s Rock Cakes!!

And while we are on the subject of Harry Potter, you might want to read J K Rowling’s speech “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”. She delivered this commencement address at Harvard University on the occasion of being presented with an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

This Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is also going across to Ivy’s Savoury Pie Event.


sra said...

I was expecting paneer, because that's what I've seen veg shepherd's pie made with! This is really nice and interesting.

Nidhi said...

Your Veg Shepherd Pie is very interesting. Bookmarked! Will make this soon.

jayasree said...

Looks delicious.. Sounds very interesting. Bookmarked.

PG said...

A great recipe! very inovative - using daals in it. Have to give it a try.
A nice write up too! And, what a wonderful idea with the event!

Happy cook said...

Love this veggie version.
I have seen delia making this in one of her cooking programmes.

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Hi aparna
the post made a nice read and , as you say , the kids are too much fascinated with these harry potter stuff and my hous is also not untouched.Loved this pie and the recipe and as you say 'shepherds's pie'.

Pearlsofeast said...

Hey Aparna, sounds nice.I have never made the shepherd pie and always thought of trying it,this one sounds great

Ivy said...

Aparna, I enjoyed reading your post. My daughter is now 16 and she still is a Harry Potter's fan. When I had the bookstore eight years ago I struggled to convince her to start reading Harry Potter and now she has read all the books many times each, we have watched all the movies (except the last two, she was allowed to see it with her friends. Some times we had to buy the English version as it came out first as she was so anxious to read it but because at the time her English was not good enough, we had to buy the Greek one as well.
That made me relax after the strenuous morning I had with the computer. Still have not resolved my problems, only hope that it will be resolved soon. Thanks for participating with this delicious Shepherd's Pie (why not call it Gardener's Pie?). I would prefer your version. Pls send me by e-mail a short description of your pie to insert in the round up.

Curry Leaf said...

Aparna,I think one English food event is there.You can send this there as well if interested.Looks delicious.;P

FoodyGuru (Srimathi) said...

Hi Aprana,

Very niceeeeee. The photo looks good. Have not had a Shepards pie either.Looks like I need to try this one for sure.

Usha said...

This sounds delicious...your pics look wonderful too...have duly bookmarked to try soon :)

Micha said...

Oh yum! Veggie Shepards pie! It seems like such an obvious thing to take the meat out, but I just hadn't ever thought of it before. This will be a hearty winter meal for us, for sure.

Bharti said...

Mmmmm...that looks gooood! I've made it with nutries once.
I just started reading HP to my 6 year old daughter a few nights ago as her bed time book. It's fun to rediscover it again!

Aparna said...

Thanks and if you do try this out, I would love to hear how you found the pie.

Didn't know about paneer, Sra. This is my first Shepherd's Pie.:)

I like that name, Gardner's Pie, Ivy.:) I will send you a brief description.

Thanks, CL. Will check it out.

Hope you both enjoy the read, Bharti.