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Indian style cottage pie with spiced mash

Diana Henry / 03 February 2017

A classic British cottage pie is given an Indian makeover by Diana Henry.

Indian beef pie with spiced mash
Indian beef pie with spiced mash

Cooking time

1 hour 15 minutes




For the beef

  • 1 tbsp oil (whichever one you prefer)
  • 350g minced beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 135ml beef or chicken stock
  • ½ tbsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of soft dark brown sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Juice of ½ lime, or a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp garam masala

For the mash topping

  • 250g parsnips, scraped and chopped
  • 150g floury potatoes, peeled
  • 15g butter
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a casserole and cook the beef over a high heat to get a good colour. It’s really important to get this colour as it gives you a good flavour. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1/2 tbsp oil (some fat will have come out of the mince).

Add the onion to the pan, reduce the heat and cook until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic, chilli and all the spices (except the garam masala) and cook for another couple of minutes. Put the beef back in the pan along with the stock, tomato puree, sugar (if using) and seasoning and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and cook gently, covered, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the peas and cook for another 8 minutes, with the lid off. You should have a nice thick mixture. If not, whack the heat up and boil off some of the moisture. Stir in the coriander, lime juice and garam masala and taste for seasoning. Spoon the beef into a pie dish (you need one with a capacity of 800ml) and leave to cool.

Boil the potatoes and the parsnips separately until they are soft. Drain the potatoes and keep them in the saucepan in which they were cooked. Put a clean tea-towel on top of them and cover. Let these sit for a few minutes on a very low heat – this just helps to dry out the potatoes a bit and will give you a better mash.

Drain the parsnips and add them to the potatoes. Melt the butter for the mash in a large saucepan (the one in which you cooked the parsnips should be big enough) and cook the spices for a minute. Add the potatoes and parsnips to this and mash really well, adding the cream and salt and pepper as you do so.

Spread the mash on top of the beef in the pie dish and put into an oven preheated to 180 C. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden. I serve this with chutney, raita and a green vegetable.

Visit our Indian recipe section for more cooking ideas


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.