As promised, this is the recipe for Christmas meat pie that Reggie’s mum would have adapted from Mrs. Gupta’s samosa recipe, and then given to Reggie’s grammer for making Christmas dinner. In adding “sweets” to the ground lamb, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a mincemeat pie – the elements provide a tint, a counterpoint to the Indian spices (and note that some of the Indian spices have been dispensed with here). Nothing should be allowed to take over. It’s Christmas meat pie with a cross-cultural difference – enjoy.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup (a stick and a half) butter
½ cup of all-vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup ghee or clarified butter or oil
Cold water as needed (usually 10-12 tablespoons)
1 lb. ground lamb
½ cup currents or raisins
¼ cup orange marmalade
1½ cups minced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons ground mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
7 cloves crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
1 12 oz. pkg. frozen green peas, thawed
3 teaspoons curry powder
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup cooking sherry
½ teaspoon cornstarch
If you have a recipe for an all-butter pie crust and feel confident using it, by all means do so – you have my respect and admiration. Use the recipe, put your dough in the refrigerator to rest and skip to the next paragraph. The remainder of this paragraph is for those of you who, like me, find their all-butter crusts end up being a bit too tough and chewy. Combine the flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, stirring until well mixed. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and combine in a mixer (that’s right, a mixer – this is 1960, remember: No high-tech cooking gadgets yet). Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and continue to use the mixer. The mixture should look something like coarse cornmeal, with no butter bit larger than a pea. Sprinkle about 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Run the mixer again. If you can pinch some dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If not, run the mixer again adding a tablespoon of the water at a time, until the mixture just begins to clump together. Place the dough in a mound on a clean surface. Divide it into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Don’t over-knead the dough! Dust disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and put them in the refrigerator to rest for at least an hour.
Place the ground lamb in a bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar; 1 tablespoon each of the lemon juice, ginger and mint leaves; and all the marmalade, ground mustard, sage, paprika, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Barely line the bottom of a medium skillet with cooking oil and lightly brown the meat mixture. Drain, separately retaining the drippings, and set aside.
Heat the ghee in a medium skillet and add the onion. Cook until the onion is lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the coriander, curry powder and cumin seeds, a teaspoon each of the lemon juice and the ginger, and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 4 cloves of the garlic, the broth, the raisins or currents, and the pepper, and cook, periodically stirring, for another 15 minutes.
While this mix is cooking, do the gravy mix, combining the drippings with 3 cloves of the garlic, and all the cooking sherry and cornstarch, adding cold water, a teaspoon at a time, as necessary.
When the broth has cooked down, add the peas and cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the mint, and the gravy mix. Continue cooking another 2-3 minutes. Mix the vegetables with the meat. Set aside.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure as you roll outwards from the center of the dough. Every so often, you may need to gently lift under the dough (a pastry scraper works great for this) to make sure it’s not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around. When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.
Spoon the meat and vegetable mixture on top of the pie shell. Roll out the second disk of dough. Gently place onto the top of the filling. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Finish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork. Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Yield: 6-8 servings.