Attention: all Vegetarian Shepherds

the good shepherd:

Linda from (not sure) wrote:

“Hello there, many years ago I borrowed one of your cookbooks from the local library and cooked a meal that was reminiscent of shepherd’s pie, but it used panir cheese and celery – well that is all I can remember. I have since bought one of your books but cannot find this particular recipe. I would be most grateful if you could steer me in the right direction or send me the recipe if you have it. By the way I love the rest of the book – your recipes give a whole new slant on vegetarian cooking. Kind regards, Linda.”

My reply:

“Hello Linda, Thanks for your letter. Yes that’s my famous vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe, perfected in the 1980’s at Gopal’s Restaurant in Swanston Stret, Melbourne. Here it is:”

veg shepherd's pie:

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Those of you (like myself) of “Anglo-Saxon” background, will perhaps be familiar with the cruel, non-vegetarian origins of this dish. It contains the cooked minced flesh of slaughtered baby sheep called ‘lamb’, by the way which is smothered in mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Here’s my tender-hearted version.

PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: 1 1/2 hours
YIELD: enough for 6 to 8 persons

For base of pie

1 1/4 cups brown lentils
2 litres water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup celery, diced
home-made curd cheese (panir) from (2 litres) milk and pressed for 1/2 hour, or 200g shop-bought panir cheese
5 tablespoons good quality tamari or soy sauce

For potato topping

2 tablespoons butter
6 large baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Boil the brown lentils and water in a heavy 6-litre/quart saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook until they become soft. Strain through a colander. Put the lentils aside and retain the liquid for use as a soup stock at a later date.

Meanwhile, boil the potato cubes in slightly salted water until they become soft. Drain and mash them until smooth. Add the butter, milk, salt, and sour cream and mix well.

Heat the olive oil in a small, heavy pan until very hot. Add the asafoetida and pepper and saute momentarily. Add the celery bits and stir well; reduce the heat and braise the celery until soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Mash the drained lentils until smooth.

Crumble the curd cheese in a bowl and add the soy sauce. Mix well. Combine this mixture with the mashed lentils and the braised seasoned celery bits.

Spread this pie filling evenly in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole dish. Cover this with the mashed potatoes. Smooth the mashed potatoes and use a fork to mark the top with lines.

Bake in a very hot oven 230C/450F until the top is browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve hot.
Posted by Kurma on 29/7/08; 5:46:38 AM

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