Shepherds Pie

A hearty wholesome winters delight


I started my blogging journey with great pomp and flair. Trying to take the perfect photo, making sure I use the high appeal hashtags to get lots of likes and comments, checking my stats every few hours to see how it was all tracking, etc. As the months went by this passion started turning into bit of an obsession. The pursuit of perfection got even more intense. On the flip side the number of likes and comments  took a downward turn. The more I watched my posts being less liked, the lesser I was inclined to publish new content.

Life also got busier, I went from being a mother of one to a mother of two. While parenthood is the most beautiful thing in the world, the constant demands it has of you means somewhere, something has to give. For me it was blogging. Days turned into weeks and weeks to months before I knew it, it was over six months since my last post.

Why am I telling you this? Simply because it dawned on me one late evening as I was feeding my newborn and watching my toddler sleep. You must do all that it takes to keep doing things that make you happy and pursue happiness not perfection. Life is too short to care about the camera angle or the perfect photo or about the number of  likes and comments on your social media. What matters is what makes you happy! After all life is a pursuit of happiness. So is this recipe!!!


Don’t get deterred by the list of ingredients. You can use frozen or fresh vegetables, basically whatever you have in the fridge. Enjoy this hearty, wholesome winters delight that may not be a perfect picture but it is a perfect meal. Lip smackingly delicious in every way.

Ingredients:  Cooking time: 45 minutes 

Serves: 4

  1. Two tins of canned brown lentils
  2. One tin of four bean mix
  3. One leek, finely chopped
  4. One small onion, finely chopped
  5. Four to five pods of garlic
  6. One zucchini, chopped
  7. Two parsnips, chopped
  8. Half a bunch of spinach
  9. 1.5 cups of frozen vegetable mix of peas, corn and carrots
  10. 1.5 teaspoon of garam masala
  11. Half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  12. 1.5 teaspoon of dried basil
  13. 250 gms of grated cheddar
  14. 125 gms of grated Parmesan
  15. Salt to season
  16. Black pepper to season
  17. Three tablespoons of olive oil
  18. Two tablespoons of butter

For Mash Potatoes

  1. Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  2.  300ml of milk
  3. Two tablespoons of butter
  4. One cup of grated cheddar

Heat butter and two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add garlic, leek and onion. Cook until leek is soft and lightly caramelised.


Add all the vegetables, lentils, beans and spices. Mix well. Season with salt and add a cup of water. Cover the pan and let the lentils and vegetables simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

To make mash potatoes, boil potatoes until extremely soft. Drain water and add milk, butter and cheese. Mash the potatoes until smooth.

To assemble the pie in a baking dish add the lentils and vegetables at the bottom. Top this with a layer of mash potatoes. Add grated cheddar and Parmesan on top. Drizzle remaining olive oil on the potatoes ( this will prevent them from drying in the oven.


Place the bake dish under a grill and grill until cheese is caramelised. Your Shepherds pie is ready to serve.

Serve hot along with a simple green side salad and let this hearty winter delight fill your belly and soul with warmth.

Palak Khichdi 

A spoonful of health and flavour…

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This humble old recipe is every Indian mothers answer when someone in the house says they are feeling under the weather. 

Traditionally defined as bland, boring but healthy. Khichdi is made from lentils, rice, turmeric and a bit of salt. As a child I labelled this dish ‘bimaaron ka khaana’ i.e. ‘ill people’s meal’. I never wanted to eat it and you wouldn’t blame me! 

Today Khichdi and I are good friends. What changed? Well Khichdi became a little more glamorous. Different spices and veggies have elevated this dish and put it at par with risotto from Italy or paella from Spain. All Khichdi is missing now is an exotic name.

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Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms of rice
  • 250 gms of yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 500 ml of spinach puree
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Six to eight cloves
  • One to two blades of mace
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh lemon for garnish 

Begin by washing the rice and lentils thoroughly. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

In a heavy-set pot, melt butter. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and mace. Mace gives this dish a subtle peppery flavour and goes really well with any rice dish. If you can’t find mace you can use half a teaspoon of grounded nutmeg, but add it along with other powdered spices later in the dish.

Once aromatic add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Now add garam masala, coriander powder and nutmeg if using it. Mix well, evenly coating all the ingredients.

Finally add the spinach pureè, about four cups of water and season with salt as desired. Cover the pot with a lid and let the Khichdi simmer on a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Whilst Khichdi is simmering remember to stir it occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Your lip smackingly delicious Khichdi is ready to be served. I have served it with a side of crispy cumin potatoes and garnished it with a wedge of lemon. Here’s to health and happiness in every bite of life!!!

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Pumpkin Dal

Cause’ tonight is the night when two become one and its DALICIOUS!!!

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My fridge may not always be stocked up but my pantry always is! I make sure I am always fully stocked with dried herbs, spices, lentils, noodles, pasta, ghee, mustard oil and olive oil. These are few of my favourite things. In terms of fresh produce I always tend to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. This way you get the best produce, for a fraction of a cost and there is hardly any wastage.

So one night when all I had in my fridge was half a pumpkin and curry leaves. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, until I looked in my pantry and found a can of brown lentils and black sesame seeds. Just like that this dish came together. Serve it with a side of steamed rice or naan bread or just eat it like a soup, it’s delicious.

Ingredients: 15  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Half a pumpkin, cubed ( I used kent pumpkin)
  • One can (400gms) of brown lentils
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • One tomato, finely chopped
  • 8 -10 fresh curry leaves
  • Three to four garlic pods, coarsely chopped
  • Half a bunch of coriander (stem and leaves), coarsely chopped
  • Two to three green chillies, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Half a teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to season
  • Two tablespoons of mustard oil
  • One tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Heat mustard oil in a pan. Add garlic, once aromatic add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chillies and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds begin to splutter and curry leaves start crackling, add onion, coriander stem and cook until onions are lightly browned.  

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Now add the tomato, cook on a medium heat until the tomato is soft. Then add pumpkin cubes and turmeric powder. Mix well. Finally add the lentils (rinse thoroughly before adding them to the dish), four cups of water, lemon juice and season with salt. Cover the pan with a lid and let the dal simmer for 15-20 minutes.  

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Now add the remaining coriander, stir the dal well. Let it simmer for another five to seven minutes.The pumpkin should now be really tender and the lentils broken down. This gives the dal a smooth texture.   

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Your lip smackingly delicious pumpkin dal is now ready to serve. Garnish it with toasted black sesame seeds and serve on a bed of steamed rice or with some naan or just devour it by itself. Foodgasm is guaranteed. 

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Reshmi Dal (Creamy Lentil Curry)

It’s smooth like silk…

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Growing up in an Indian household, it will suffice to say I have had a very spoilt upbringing. Not spoilt by material things, but by unconditional love, limitless care and utterly delicious food. While at home I never spared a thought on ‘whats for dinner?’ because there one of my favourite dishes was always simmering away on the stove. Moving away from home has not only got me thinking about whats for dinner, but also cooking it! Cooking and eating Indian food is second nature to me, therefore most weeknights it is my preferred cuisine.

I do have some tried and tested recipes, but my inherent curiosity  always leads me to try new recipes and flavour combinations. There are two things I look for in a recipe – loads of flavour and ease of cooking. After all the last thing one wants to do following a long day at work is slave in the kitchen. Today’s recipe definitely has my two pre-requisites covered, but there is another added bonus – this dish is low in calories and high in nutrition.

I have called this recipe Reshmi Dal because it truly is smooth like silk and Reshm does actually mean silk in Hindi. I use canned brown lentils for this recipe, so you don’t need a pressure cooker – the dal can be made with great ease in a saucepan. This recipe in particular is an ode to all my Australian friends who love Indian food – give this recipe a go, I promise you will keep coming back for more.

Ingredients:  9    Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils (I use the Annalisa brand)
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two inch piece of ginger, smashed
  • One cup of coriander, finely chopped (leaves and stems)
  • Three to four green chillies, halved
  • Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon of light Greek natural yogurt to garnish

Heat ghee in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Now add the smashed ginger, coriander stems and green chillies. Cook the onion mixture on low heat for four to five minutes.

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Rinse the lentils thoroughly, add them to the onion mixture and give the ingredients a good stir. Now add about three cups of water, salt to season, cover the saucepan and let the dal simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Check the dal, as it cooks and the protein breakdowns the dal will transform into a creamy consistency. At this stage add half a cup of water, fresh coriander (spare some leaves for the garnish later), cover the saucepan and let the lentils simmer for another five to seven minutes.

Your dal is now ready to serve. Garnish with a dollop of natural Greek yogurt and coriader leaves, serve with steamed rice and simply dig in.

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Dal Makhni (Creamy Black Lentils)

It ain’t real dal if it ain’t dal makhni….

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Let me begin by wishing you and a family a very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year!! Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated across India and it holds different significance depending on which region and religious faith you come from. For simple people like me Diwali always meant and continues to mean only one thing – a celebration with family and friends with good food and lots of diyas, lamps and lights.

As I write this recipe I am thinking of my family back home in India, they are celebrating Diwali in the lap of the Himalayas with my Beeji (Grandmaa). The other side of my family is in Adelaide, which leaves just my husband, Viktor and I. This is such a special time, made even more special when you can share it with family and friends.

Being a North Indian, in my part of the world Diwali is celebrated in memory of Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and his subsequent homecoming to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. There is also a great significance behind making Dal Makhni on Diwali, particularly in North Indian households. It is believed that back in the day people did not have much wealth IMG_5169and therefore fancy foods were out of the question. Kaali dal being a staple food in the North Indian diet was available in every household, so people made Dal Makhni using Kaali dal and made it special by adding a geneorous amount of ghee. This holds true for most North Indian families even today, wealthy or not – Dal Makhni is a special treat for every Diwali.

Ingredients:  5    Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves: 4
  • One cup whole black urad dal
  • One cup red kidney beans
  • Two tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • Two red onions sliced
  • One crushed tinned tomato can or fresh tomato paste (using three to four depending on size)
  • One table spoon grated ginger
  • Two pods of garlic
  • One or two green chillies (depending on how hot you like it)
  • One cinnamon stick
  • My top secret ingredient, fresh coriander stem (about 4 to 5 stems chopped)
  • 1.5 tea spoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1.5 tea spoon coriander powder (Dhaniya)
  • 1 tea spoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 1.5 tea spoon garam masala
  • 1/2 tea spoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (can be avoided if vegan or lactose intolerant)
  • 1/2 teapsoon asafoetedia powder (hing)
  • Two small black cardamoms
  • One bay leaf

Soak the lentils and the kidney beans over night if possible or atleast for four to five hours before cooking. You will notice the longer you soak the lentils and beans the more bloated they will get, which is good.

Transfer the lentils and beans into a pressure cooker and add the asafoetedia (hing) powder, which helps breaks the protein in the lentils making it easier to digest, add the black cardamom and bay leaf and cook the lentils for about 90 minutes (longer if using a saucepan) until they are soft. 

North Indian Red Curry Paste

In a pan add two table spoons of ghee (Sorry this recipe is notfor the faint hearted). Alright two table spoons of olive oil for my health conscious friends. Once you can smell the aroma of ghee (or olive oil), add the cumin seeds and wait until they start tempering. Now add the sliced onions and cook until translucent.

Once the onions are cooked add ginger, garlic, green chillies, cinnamon stick and coriander stems. Mix it all and wait until the onion mix has carmelised.

Bring on the colour and add the tomato paste, followed by adding coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let the mixture simmer until the oil surfaces to the top. Add salt, sugar and skim milk. Add water if you wish to dilute the paste.

Let the mix cool slightly and blend it all up. TADA!!! Curry paste is ready.

While the dal is cooking, make your red curry paste and keep it aside. Once the dal is cooked mix it in with the curry paste and let it simmer. The reason this dal is called Makhni is not because it uses a lot of butter, ghee or cream. It is simply because it is cooked for so long that the lentils and beans become mushy and give the dal a rich creamy texture.

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