Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 7 - Valentine's Day - Kheema Pot Pie

This week feels backwards, with my V-Day dessert being my cooking challenge entry, and my main dish being the baking entry--most of my baking entries, by their very nature, have been desserts!  But I just had to have those jello shots, and there's no possible way that could be construed as "baking", so I invented this new pot pie to fall in love with.

It's based on a favorite curry of mine, kheema (also spelled keema or qeema), a heavily-spiced Pakistani dish of ground meat, tomatoes, onions, and whatever other veggies you like, normally served with some sort of flatbread and plain yogurt.  It manages to be both exotic and comfort food at the same time, which I just love.

How did I come up with this idea?  I've seen a few curry pot pie recipes floating around, but they're all basically a normal chicken pot pie with curry powder added...which just doesn't do it for me.  Once I knew that I wanted a pie for my main dish, and that I didn't want chicken (we ate a lot of chicken last week), kheema was one of the first things that came to mind, because I make it with beef.  (It's more often made with lamb, but lamb is prohibitively expensive around here.  If you like lamb better and it's available, by all means, use it instead!)

I made the curry proper the day before, both because it's a rather long process from start to finish if you were to do it all the same day, and because I have yet to meet a curry that doesn't taste better reheated the next day.  It could certainly be done all in one go, but allow some time for the curry to cool before adding the egg and filling the crust.

The full recipe of kheema makes enough to fill two pies; if you don't want two pies, make half the recipe, or make the full recipe and freeze the unused half for later.  If you just want the curry and not the pie, skip the egg and pie crusts and scoop that stuff up with some naan or roti!

Kheema Pot Pie
(adapted from Curry Cuisine)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and very finely diced
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or lamb)
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten, per pie
  • Enough pastry for a double pie crust for each pie being made, either purchased or homemade (I like this recipe)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions over low heat, stirring often, until soft and golden brown.  Add the garlic, ginger paste, tomatoes, and potatoes and stir well.  Add the chili powder, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander, and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the oil separates out.

Add the ground beef and stir to mix with the spice mixture.  Cover the pan and simmer over low heat 35 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook a further 8-10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Here, either refrigerate the curry overnight and continue the next day, or allow to cool somewhat before proceeding.  This would be a good time to make the pie crusts, if you're going homemade.

For each pie, mix one beaten egg with half the prepared curry.  Fill the bottom crust, smoothing the curry in an even layer.  Lay the top crust over, seal all around with a fork, and slash a few vents on top to allow steam to escape.  (The hearts are cute, but wholly unnecessary.  I did it to make the pie more lovey-dovey for the theme.)  Bake in a 375 F oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.  Rest 5 minutes before slicing.

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