This Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s pie gives the traditional dish a shake with flavour-packed, warming Indian spices. Rich, satisfying, and comforting, I can’t imagine a cozier dish for chilly evenings.
Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s Pie
I am really excited to share this recipe with you. It’s SO good. It re-imagines the classic and familiar Shepherd’s Pie by infusing it with Indian spices. A traditional shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb but for this recipe we use ground turkey. This makes it a little lighter but no less flavourful and delicious.
The process for making the pie is simple. Onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, crushed tomatoes, and ground turkey form the base of this pie. Cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, and garam masala infuse the filling with lovely warming flavours. The filling is then topped with a mound of perfectly fluffy, garam masala-boosted, creamy mashed potatoes then baked until golden and slightly crusty.
Incredibly fragrant, without being overpowering, this Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie is hearty, satisfying, and flat out delicious. Best of all, you can assemble it all in advance, refrigerate overnight, then pop it in the oven an hour before you plan to serve it. You’re going to love it.
Ingredients & Notes
For the spices, you can use seeds or you can use ground to make it easier. Seeds of course have more flavour but ground spices have come a long way and if yours aren’t old, they will add plenty of flavour.
- Ground turkey: Ground turkey is lower in both fat and calories than ground lamb or beef, but it still provides the same great flavour and texture. Feel free to use any other ground meat, or a mix, if you wish.
- Yukon Gold potatoes: I prefer yellow potatoes for mashing but you can use russet potatoes if you wish. I have also made used sweet potatoes to make the mash and I absolutely love it.
- Full-fat yogurt: To make the potato mash nice and creamy with just a hint of tang.
- Spices: Both the filling and the topping are infused with warming Indian spices. Here we use ground cumin and cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, ground turmeric, and garam masala. Despite all of the spices sounding essential, you can easily get away with just cumin and garam masala and perhaps some curry powder. A few pinches of spicy chili powder (I use cayenne) really helps balance out the flavours.
- Ghee or butter: Making the potato mash with ghee gives it a lovely flavour but butter of course works fine too. We are also using some ghee to make chhonk (more on chhonk below).
- Yellow onion and garlic: The aromatics that flavour the filling.
- Carrots: Always a nice veggie addition to shepherd’s pie.
- Mushrooms: Completely optional, but yummy if you like mushrooms.
- Freshly grated ginger: Hugely popular in Indian cooking, ginger elevates the overall flavour of this dish.
- Tomato sauce: You can use passatta or a small can of crushed tomatoes such as this favourite Mutti.
- Fresh cilantro: I add a few sprigs of cilantro to the filling as it cooks and some chopped leaves for garnish. If you don’t like cilantro feel free to omit it, or use parsley instead.
- Frozen peas: A very common ingredient in almost every shepherd’s pie.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have two favourite sides that I love serving with this Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s pie. My absolute favourite is Ina Garten’s roasted broccolini, but I like to add 5 more minutes roasting time. If you haven’t had crispy, roasted broccolini, you are in for a treat.
A second favourite is a simple spinach salad tossed with with a maple-balsamic dressing. To make the dressing: In a small jar whisk 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with half of a grated garlic clove and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, whisk again until emulsified. So, so good with baby spinach leaves. Please report back if you try it!
To Store And Freeze
Any leftovers will keep well in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. To reheat, transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Place in a 350ºF preheated oven and heat until warmed through, about 20 minutes.
To freeze a whole, unbaked shepherd’s pie: Assemble the shepherd’s pie in a baking dish and cover tightly with two layers of foil. Transfer to the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to use, preheat oven to 350ºF and bake from frozen for 2 1/2 hours. Remove foil and place under broil for 2 minutes, or until potatoes turn lightly golden. Alternatively, thaw the frozen shepherd’s pie in the fridge overnight then bake, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes.
Other Comfort Food Dishes To Try
- Instant Pot Baked Ziti
- Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Vegetarian Chili
- Harissa Turkey Chili
If you give this Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s pie recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Indian-Spiced Shepherd's Pie
For The Mashed Potatoes
- 2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup hot milk (any milk but the more fat the better taste)
- 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup full-fat yogurt at room temperature, if possible
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt or more or less to taste
- cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
For The Filling
- 1 tablespoon ghee, or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onion finely diced
- 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms optional
- 1 medium carrot finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 1/2 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes of any kind
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 sprigs fresh cilantro plus more chopped for garnish (optional)
- 2 cups frozen peas
For The Chhonk (optional)
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- pinch of red chili powder such as Kashmiri or cayenne pepper
- Boil the Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 to 18 minutes.
- While potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling: Place a large (10-12 inch) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the ghee, or oil. Once ghee has melted, add the onion, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their liquid, or until onions are soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, ground cumin, turmeric, garam masala, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the ground turkey and use a flat wooden spoon or spatula to break it into small pieces. Cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, salt, and cilantro sprigs, and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and add more spices and/or salt if needed. Stir in the frozen peas and turn off the heat.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Prepare the mashed potatoes: Drain potatoes; return to pot and place over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates, about 1 minute. Heat milk with ghee (or butter) in small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted; set aside. Using a potato ricer, press potatoes into large bowl (or use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the pot). Add milk mixture; stir to blend. Stir in yogurt and mix until smooth. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper, and garam masala and mix to incorporate. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Set mashed potatoes aside.
- Make chhonk (optional): Melt 2 tablespoon ghee in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and as soon as they start to brown (this will only take 1 minute or so) add a pinch of red chili powder. Set aside.
- Assemble the shepherd's pie: Spoon the potato mash over meat mixture. Use a fork or a spoon to evenly spread the potatoes across the top, making a few deep ridges as you go along. If using the chhonk, use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the top of mash.
- Bake: Transfer skillet to oven and bake until warmed through and golden on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving, if desired.
- To dirty one less dish, cook the filling in a large oven-proof skillet, then top with the potato mash before baking. If you prefer to bake the shepherd's pie in a casserole dish, simply transfer the filling to a 9x13 baking dish, or similar. Then top with potato mash.
- If making this dish in advance, I recommend you assemble it in a baking dish (as opposed to in the skillet) so it is easier to store in the fridge.