Gluten-Free Vegetarian Paneer and Lentil Spice Pie

I live with a man who lives for pies. Generally viewed as stodgy, rich and meaty fare, I decided I had to get a healthier (gluten-free, meat-free) rendition in his belly. Inspired by traditional Ayurvedic cooking, this pie delights with digestion enhancing spices, protein-packed lentils, and authentic ghee. So while the actual pie concept isn’t strictly Ayurvedic, this dish twists tradition all over the show. And it works.

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list! The pie serves very generous portions for 6 people…so if you don’t have a crowd to feed, you can easily enjoy this for lunch a couple of days after creating it (in fact, the flavors only become enhanced), or freeze it in portions for easy, delicious meals when you’re time-poor.

Pie Ingredients:

200g paneer cheese
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
4 tablespoons of ghee or grapeseed oil
4 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
1 chilli, deseeded and diced
1 inch of ginger root, grated
1 clove of garlic
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of uncooked brown lentils, rinsed
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 onion
½ cup of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 additional tablespoons of ghee

Gluten-Free Pastry Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of rice flour
½ cup of tapioca flour
1/4 cup of potato starch
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of xantham or guar gum
3/4 cup of Ghee
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of ice cold water
1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1 egg, whisked (for brushing pastry)

Method:

  1. Place the spices, oil, apple cider vinegar, chilli, ginger, garlic, and sunflower oil into a bowl and mix together. Add the paneer cheese and gently toss to mix spices and cheese. Cover and set aside in the fridge for an hour.
  2. For pastry: Mix flours, salt, and xanthan gum in a bowl. Rub in the ghee.
  3. Slowly stir the egg and apple cider vinegar mix into the flour mix, until a ball is formed *If the pastry is a little hard when removed from the fridge, knead again a little bit.
  4. Knead the pastry (with a little rice flour if needed) for 2-3 minutes and then wrap the pastry and place in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Place the lentils into a pot with the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 mins, until lentils are soft to the bite.
  6. Meanwhile, place the ghee into the pan and fry the onions until they are wilted, but not brown. Add the paneer mix and fry for 3 minutes
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the can of tomatoes and the cooked lentils and simmer for 3 mins.
  8.  Mix in the fresh coriander. Pour into a casserole/pie dish approx 20cm x 10cm in diameter.
  9. Warm the pastry in your hands by re-kneading for about 1 minute. Roll out the pastry and place over the top of the pie. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go on in one perfect sheet. Just press it into the pie and allow little ‘seams’. It all cooks into one!  Brush the egg yolk on top of the pie. Sprinkle with cumin seeds.
  10. Bake in the oven at 180° fan bake for 30 minutes or until golden on the top. Serve with asparagus or wilted spinach with chopped almonds on top.

Nutrition Bite: Ghee is a form of clarified butter and in Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is said to stimulate the secretion of stomach acids to help with digestion, while other fats, such as butter and oils, slow down the digestive process and can sit heavily in the stomach. Ghee may be tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant as the lactose sugar is broken down on clarification.

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