Know what’s even more delicious than a traditional shepherd’s pie? The answer: my Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie! Nothing hits the spot like a piping hot skillet filled with deeply flavorful ground meat spiced with fragrant garam masala and golden turmeric, all blanketed under a layer of sweet potato mash!

An overhead shot of an Indian-Spiced Shepherd's Pie in a cast iron skillet with two servings scooped out and in two small plates next to the pan.

A recipe from Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!

This cozy and comforting one-pan Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie is a fan favorite from our green cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!, and I’m so excited to finally share it with you on the blog! It’s super easy to make, tastes great as leftovers, and it’s paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free. This’ll be on constant rotation at your house when it’s chilly!

An Indian-inspired twist to a classic shepherd’s pie!

As I’m sure you all know, shepherd’s pie is a traditional British dish that consists of cooked minced meat (usually lamb) topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked until bubbly in the oven. I love the classic pub-style version, but was inspired to give it an Indian twist by seasoning the meat filling like a keema, with ginger, garlic, onion, chili peppers, ground turmeric, and garam masala. To gild the lily, I top the pie with a spiced sweet potato topping that perfectly complements the savory spiced meat filling. Once you try this version, you may never go back to the original!

Can you make the sweet potato mash in the Instant Pot?

To speed things up, you can make the sweet potato mash for the top layer in an Instant Pot! Cook the sweet potatoes, garlic, coconut milk, and salt in an Instant Pot under high pressure for 10 minutes and release the pressure immediately. Season with garam masala and blend until smooth!

Make-ahead tips

If you want to make this dish ahead of time, you can prepare the sweet potato mash and filling in advance and assemble it on the day you want to serve it. The cooked topping and meat filling can be kept in the fridge for up to four days. When you want to eat the shepherd’s pie, simply transfer the filling to an oven-safe skillet and heat it up on the stove until bubbling. Then, top the hot filling with the cold sweet potato mash and pop it under the broiler!

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Mash

  • Sweet potatoes: I like using orange-fleshed garnet sweet potatoes for this dish. If you don’t like the subtle sweetness from the sweet potatoes, you can use Russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes instead.
  • Garam masala: There are lots of great store-bought garam masala that you can use—they’re all a little bit different so find the one you like!
  • Garlic
  • Full-fat coconut milk: To keep things dairy-free, I use coconut milk in place of heavy cream and butter. The flavor pairs perfectly with sweet potatoes and the Indian spices!
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt 

Filling

  • Ghee: I like to use ghee to sauté the veggies and meat, but you can substitute avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil.
  • Onion: Because I’m normally pressed for time, I cook the diced onions only until they’re softened. If you have the time and want to add extra flavor, keep sautéing the onions until they are golden brown and caramelized.
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Jalapeno peppers: The diced peppers add a little bit of heat to the filling. You can add more or less, depending on your spice tolerance.
  • Ground meat: Although shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with ground lamb, you can substitute ground beef (a.k.a. cottage pie), ground goat, ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken.
  • Ground turmeric
  • Full-fat coconut milk 
  • Frozen peas
  • Garam masala
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt  

How to make an Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie

Make the mash first

Dump the sweet potatoes, garlic, coconut milk, and salt in a large saucepan.

Pouring coconut milk into a pot filled with cubed sweet potatoes.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then, turn down the heat to maintain a simmer.

An overhead shot of someone stirring cubed sweet potatoes in a pot with coconut milk to make the topping of an Indian-spiced shepherd's pie.

Cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until the sweet potato pieces are easily pierced with a fork. 

Placing a cover on a gray dutch oven filled with cubed sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Add in the garam masala.

Adding a teaspoon of garam masala into a pot filed with cooked sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Blitz the sweet potatoes with an immersion blender or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.

An immersion blender is blending cooked sweet potatoes and coconut milk into a silky puree.

Make the filling

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, let’s make the filling. Heat a 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the ghee. Swirl it around. Then, toss the onions in the pan.

Adding chopping onions to a skillet filled with some hot oil.

Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. (Got extra time? Cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are browned, for even deeper flavor.)

A red silicone spatula is pushing some softened sautéed chopped onions in a gray enamel cast iron skillet.

Toss the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers into the pan. Sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Adding a small bowl of chopped jalapeño peppers to a skillet filled with sautéed chopped onions, minced garlic, and minced ginger.

Crumble in the ground meat.

Adding raw ground meat to a skillet filled with sautéed chopped onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, and chopped jalapeños to make the filling for an Indian-spiced shepherd's pie.

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the meat is mostly no longer pink, breaking up the pieces with your spatula.

An overhead shot of the meat filling of a paleo Indian-spiced shepherd's pie.

Stir in the salt, turmeric, and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Placing a lid on a enamel cast iron skillet filled with the Indian spiced shepherd's pie filling.

Stir in the peas and cook uncovered on medium heat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the liquid in the skillet has mostly evaporated. 

An overhead shot of a skillet filled with the Indian-spiced ground beef and green pea filling for an Indian-spiced shepherd's pie.

Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the garam masala, lemon juice, and minced cilantro. 

Adding a spoonful of lemon juice and ground Indian spices to a skillet filled with cooked ground beef, onions, and green peas.

Adjust the seasoning to taste with additional salt, garam masala, or lemon juice. Smooth the top of the meat in the pan.

An overhead shot of the filling for a paleo Indian spiced shepherd's pie that is ready for the topping to be added.

Assemble the shepherd’s pie

Dollop the sweet potato mash all over the top and smooth it to the edges with a silicone spatula or an offset spatula.

Spooning mashed sweet potatoes on top of an Indian-spiced shepherd's pie.

Rake the tines of a fork across the top if you want to make your shepherd’s pie look even more awesome.

Using a fork to make a lines on top of the mashed sweet potato topping on an Indian-spiced shepherd's pie that is about to go under a broiler.

Broil the shepherd’s pie

Heat the broiler on high with the rack about 6 inches from the oven’s heating element. 

A hand is turning the knob on an oven to set it on broil.

Broil for 10 to 14 minutes or ‘till the mash is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

An Indian-spiced shepherd's pie in a round enamel cast iron skillet under the broiler.

Let the shepherd’s pie cool for 5 to 10 minutes before garnishing with minced cilantro, if desired. Serve and eat!

A close up of the browned top of a Indian-spiced shepherd's pie that is ready to serve.

How to save leftovers

You can save any leftover Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


Indian-Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

4.89 from 17 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6
Know what’s even more delicious than a traditional shepherd’s pie? The answer: my Indian-spiced shepherd's pie! Nothing hits the spot like a piping hot skillet filled with deeply flavorful ground meat spiced with fragrant garam masala and golden turmeric, all blanketed under a layer of sweet potato mash!

Ingredients  

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • 2 pounds ground beef, ground lamb, ground turkey, ground goat or ground chicken.
  • teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions 

Make the mash

  • Dump the sweet potatoes, garlic, coconut milk, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then, turn down the heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until the sweet potato pieces are easily pierced with a fork.
  • Add in the garam masala. Blitz the sweet potatoes with an immersion blender or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Make the filling

  • While the sweet potatoes are cooking, let’s make the filling. Heat a 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the ghee. Swirl it around. Then, toss the onions in the pan.
  • Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. (Got extra time? Cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are browned, for even deeper flavor.)
  • Toss the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers into the pan. Sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Crumble in the ground meat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the meat is mostly no longer pink, breaking up the pieces with your spatula.
  • Stir in the salt, turmeric, and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the peas and cook uncovered on medium heat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the liquid in the skillet has mostly evaporated.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the garam masala, lemon juice, and minced cilantro.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste with additional salt, garam masala, or lemon juice. Smooth the top of the meat in the pan.

Assemble the shepherd's pie

  • Dollop the sweet potato mash all over the top and smooth it to the edges with a silicone spatula or an offset spatula.
  • Rake the tines of a fork across the top if you want to make your shepherd’s pie look even more awesome.

Broil the shepherd's pie

  • Heat the broiler on high with the rack about 6 inches from the oven’s heating element.
  • Broil for 10 to 14 minutes or ‘till the mash is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  • Let the shepherd’s pie cool for 5 to 10 minutes before garnishing with minced cilantro, if desired. Serve and eat!

Video

Notes

  • Use your time wisely! Start the mash first and while the sweet potatoes are simmering, make the filling. This way you won’t be wasting any time.
  • Use an Instant Pot to make the mash! To speed things up, you can make the sweet potato mash for the top layer in an Instant Pot! Cook the sweet potatoes, garlic, coconut milk, and salt in an Instant Pot under high pressure for 10 minutes and release the pressure immediately. Season with garam masala and blend until smooth!
  • Make ahead tips! If you want to make this dish ahead of time, you can prepare the sweet potato mash and filling in advance and assemble it on the day you want to serve it. The cooked topping and meat filling can be kept in the fridge for up to four days. When you want to eat the shepherd’s pie, simply transfer the filling to an oven-safe skillet and heat it up on the stove until bubbling. Then, top the hot filling with the cold sweet potato mash and pop it under the broiler!

Nutrition

Calories: 576kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 29g | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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