National Day has come round again! I really enjoyed the day of absolutely no work or ministry commitments, some time cooking and catching up with friends. Oh and of course watching the mandatory National Day Parade telecast. There’s something nostalgic about listening to Singapore songs and listening to kid#2 critique the marching styles of the march past.
Dinner was deliberately multiethnic and all mixed up. I think that is Singapore’s greatest strength and attraction. Each ethnic group coming together and sharing each others’ favourite foods and culture. I think there are not many places where this happens unconsciously and naturally. However when I was doing my fellowship in a lab in NY, my lab mates were truly from all corners of the globe (I could count the number of Americans with the fingers of my left hand). One of my best memories was of how we would run off for an extended lunch once a month to have a meal together, and we would take turns to host the lunch in a restaurant representing the country we came from. We had amazing lunches and it was wonderful to have our host explain the food and the significance of the dishes.
Back home in Singapore one of the ethnic tensions some years ago was when a migrant family from China objected to the smell of curry coming from the home of their Indian neighbours’ kitchen. This triggered an uproar locally and sparked off a “Cook and Share a Pot of Curry” movement. So for the dinner tonight, I included Indian fish head curry, turmeric cauliflower rice, Malay kunyit fried chicken wings, sambal kangkong, braised Chinese cabbage, and sous vide ribeye steak. A truly eclectic mixture.
Usually when I cook I don’t just cook traditional food but I do try out twists to old dishes. Today I decided that instead of making a traditional shepherd’s pie (or rather a cottage pie as I was using ground beef), I would incorporate one of my favourite Indian dishes, Kheema, into my cottage pie. Kheema is a spicy Indian curry ground beef dish that is sold as a street food. I remember my mum being a rather indifferent cook when I was growing up, but beef Kheema was one of her best dishes and I have fond memories of it to this day.
To make the Kheema more low-Carb friendly, I substituted edamame beans for peas as edamame beans have a lower carb count. And of course instead of potato I made cauliflower mash for the topping of the cottage pie.
Verdict – pretty nice twist I thought. If you do like a spicy pie, this would be a definite win.
Kheema Cottage Pie
- 700 g ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 knob (about 1 inch thick) of young ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup edamame beans
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garam marsala
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tsp Apple cider vinegar
Cauliflower mash layer
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- Heat up a large skillet with the avocado oil.
- Stir fry the garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and continue to stir fry till the meat is no longer pink.
- Add the salt and spices (coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and garam marsala). Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, edamame beans and 1 cup of water and simmer over a medium flame for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Kheema is done when most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the vinegar to the beef and stir through. Take the skillet off the heat.
- Steam the cauliflower florets for 20 minutes.
- Drain the liquid from the florets, mash the florets with a hand-held blender together with the butter and salt and pepper. Set apart.
- Heat the oven 180 deg C.
- In a casserole dish, place the Kheema layer in and use the back of a spoon to gently pack the ground mice. Spoon in the next layer of cauliflower mash. Smooth the top layer. You can decorate the cauliflower mash topping by using a fork to create decorative grooves on the surface of the pie.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot; this can be a one dish meal!