Monday, December 7, 2020

Tikka masala shepherd’s pie

Tikka masala shepherd’s pie is a fusion of two of my favorite comfort foods. The combination of warm spices with a fluffy, creamy topping is very satisfying, especially as we head into the cold winter months. 

Normally, shepherd’s pie is made with a hearty lamb filling, and if that's something you want, go for it! But I fjust used ground beef. Also, lentils are a good option for my vegetarian friends.

When making the filling, it is very important that you brown (not burn!) the mirepoix (onion, carrots, and celery) before adding the rest of the ingredients. Caramelization concentrates the flavors of the vegetables due to the evaporation of the their moisture. It also increases the depth of flavor, which is the biggest difference between a good dish and a great dish. To do this, add your onions and carrots to the skillet, sauté them until they develop a golden brown sear, and then add your celery. It’s very important that you wait to add your celery because it gives off a lot of moisture which can inhibit the ability for the onion and carrot to caramelize.

There are numerous variations possible for the topping. Mashed cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and russet potatoes are all great options. It really depends on what you want out of this recipe. As with everything, do what is best for your diet and your health.

Tikka masala shepherd’s pie

Diet: Vegetarian

Yield: 8, 1-cup servings

Prep time: About 40 minutes

Cook time: About 20 minutes


For the topping

  • 3 pounds (about 6 cups) cauliflower florets, diced russet potatoes, or diced sweet potatoes
  • 8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 Tablespoons ghee
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

For the filling

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) onion, small dice
  • 6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) carrot, small dice
  • 6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) celery, small dice
  • 8 ounces frozen peas
  • 6 ounces frozen corn kernels
  • 14 ounces of your favorite tikka masala sauce
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


For the topping

  1. Place cauliflower or potatoes in large pot and cover with water. Bring water to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until fork tender—about 10 minutes for cauliflower and 20 minutes for potatoes. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Add coconut milk, ghee, and seasonings to pot, and mash until all ingredients are mixed together.
  3. Set aside while preparing filling.

For the filling

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add oil to large skillet and set over medium-high heat. 
  3. Cook ground beef in skillet, breaking into pieces, until browned and no longer pink. Use slotted spoon to remove ground beef and place on paper-towel-lined plate. Drain most of the fat from the skillet, leaving about 2 Tablespoons in the skillet.
  4. Sauté onion and carrots in skillet and cook until they start to brown slightly, about 6 minutes.
  5. Add celery to skillet and sauté until celery releases its juices, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add frozen peas and corn to skillet with tikka masala sauce. Continue to cook until frozen vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in beef crumbles.


  1. Pour filling into 2-quart (7 x 11 inches) baking dish. Spread in an even layer.
  2. Spoon topping over filling and carefully spread into an even layer.
  3. Bake uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes. Topping should start to turn golden brown and mixture should be bubbly underneath.
  4. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

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