Romance. I’m not really sure what it is; flowers, candles? I don’t think so; the feelings behind them, probably. As a literature student I studied some of the best writers of all time, including the romance genre. The thought of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters reducing romance to heart shaped randomness is unimaginable to me. Having said that, feelings and their expressions are personal and unique; so no judging.
Luckily for me, the husband is just as lost. We’re so made for each other. Does that count as romantic? I guess not! Why am I so sure we’re a lost cause? I have proof! Here’s how it goes;
Once upon a time there was a newly married couple. They lived in Bombay where the husband went to work and the wife kept home (kind of). One day the husband returned home holding a beautiful rose (not sure what colour it was but it wasn’t red) for his bride. The wife, never having expected this was taken aback but also pleased by this thoughtful gesture; with a big smile on her face she happily accepted the flower. Before she could place the precious rose in a vase befitting its beauty the following conversation ensued;
Husband- Do you know why I got this flower?
Wife- No, do tell. He was probably thinking of me all day, aww.
Husband- I saw a homeless kid selling it on the side of the road.
Wife- Oh. Ok so he was helping the poor kid, still aww, I guess.
Husband- It was like ten bucks, so cheap.
Wife- Ok. Yeah cheap is right!
Husband- Do you know why it is so cheap?
Wife- Tell me. There’s more?
Husband- There’s a cemetery close to where I got this from. The kids probably go pick the flowers off the graves and sell them on the street.
Wife- Aren’t you sweet?
Moral of the story- there’s more than one; that should tell you something.
The end- of flowers. I mean couldn’t the guy have just given me the damn rose and kept quiet? But then again, if he had, I wouldn’t have a story to tell…and laugh about. To be fair though anyone who knows the husband would tell you he’s anything but cheap and such conversations actually happen quite innocently, which can be endearing.
Oh and we also did the whole candlelit dinner thing once; entirely by chance of course. We wanted to try out this new restaurant we had been hearing a lot about so one fine day, we did. When we got there we realized it’s one of those really dimly lit, candles on the table type of place; which was fine, I mean as long as the food is good, we can handle the rest. When the food arrived, all I wanted to do was gaze lovingly at the vegetables and herbs and how beautifully they had been arranged on a pretty plate, take a picture even. Unfortunately it was too dark to do either of those things. I tried moving the single candle on our table closer to my plate but it didn’t help much. I finally lost patience and asked the staff to either get me a lot more candles or switch on some lights. Needless to say they were mortified.
Luckily for us romance and love aren’t synonymous and thank god for that.
So onto food now, specifically this hearty one two pot shepherd’s pie; the second pot for boiling the potatoes. Last time I shared with you the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert in the form of these red wine tarts with champagne grapes and today I give you the perfect main course to go with it. I don’t know about you but I usually plan my menus starting with the dessert and work my way backwards. Hence you got the sweet first and here’s the savoury; which is a good thing because whatever wine you have left over from making the dessert, can be used here. If you like you can cook the meat the night before, top it with mash on the day of and after a brief stint in the oven, it’s ready to serve. Here is my Asian inspired shepherd’s pie.
Minced meat- 1 kg (I used goat. Lamb or beef can also be used)
Vegetable oil- 2-3 tbsp (any oil will do)
Onion- 1 medium
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Ginger paste- 2tsp
Kaffir lime leaves- 2-3 (fresh or dried)
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Coriander powder- 2tsp
Green chilies- 3-4
Salt- 1 ½ tsp (or to taste)
Soy sauce- 2-3 tsp
Fish sauce- 2-3 tsp
Red wine- ¾ cup
Coriander leaves- ½ cup.
Potatoes- 800 grams
Chili flakes- 2 tsp (optional)
Butter- 2-3 tbsp
- Peel and chop the onion. Heat the oil in a pan of suitable size.
- To the oil, add cumin, let splutter. Add onions and sauté till they start turning brown.
- Then add the mince meat and stir vigorously so no lumps form.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste, coriander powder and salt (keep in mind the soy and fish sauce are also salty). Cook till the liquids evaporate.
- Then add the wine and again cook till the liquids evaporate.
- Finally add the kaffir lime leaves, soy and fish sauce and chopped green chilies. Cook till done.
- Finally add in the chopped coriander. Transfer meat mixture to an oven proof dish.
- Boil the potatoes. Mash until smooth. Add butter, salt and chili flakes.
- Top the meat mixture with the potato mash and bake for about 20 minutes in a 200C preheated oven to brown the top.
*I used goat meat but you can just as easily use lamb or beef. Just keep in mind the cooking times for each will vary.
*Go easy on the salt; the soy sauce and fish sauce are quite salty. You can always add more at the end.
*You can add peas, carrots or other vegetables of your choice.
*The pie can be baked in one large casserole dish or smaller ramekins, like I did.
*You can fish out the kaffir lime leaves before baking the pie. I just left it in.