Spicy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

When Cookbook Village tried a Spicy Shepherd's Pie from our friend Mary Sita Wijayrajah we knew we had to have the recipe for our customers. This was our first introduction to Sri Lankan cooking and the dish was absolutely amazing. There are a lot of ingredients, but the end-result is well worth the extra time at the supermarket. It's one of the best things we've ever tasted, anywhere. It's also perfect for a potluck or party. We hope some of you will try it. If you do, please let us know how you like it -- we have a comments feature at the bottom of our articles. We know Mary will be pleased to hear the recipe went to good use.

Recipe Instructions:

Serving Size:

Serves up to 10


  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1-1/2 cups green peas
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1" piece of ginger chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons curry power ( or chili powder). Sri Lankan Jaffna or Tamil curry powder are preferable if you can locate one of them.
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons total of fennel, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves (optional)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 pounds lean (4% fat from Trader Joes) ground beef (or lamb)
  • 8 ounces mashed potato mix + milk (or heavy cream) + butter (follow recipe of the mix). Add white cheddar cheese. Alternatively,
    make your own mashed potatoes with 4 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes and white cheddar). Make semi smooth mashed potatoes and add cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Add oil in a large skillet on high heat and sauté onions, garlic and ginger until tender for about 5 min
  • Add meat and cook for 4 to 5 min until meat is no longer pink
  • Lower to medium heat and add the can of tomatoes, curry power, salt, Worcestershire and soy sauce and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (do not allow it to dry; some liquid is needed for baking)
  • In another small skillet sauté the carrots in butter and when the carrots are partially cooked add the peas
  • Add the sautéed carrots and peas and mix with the meat
  • Add pepper to taste
  • Grind in coffee grinder (any dry grinder) fennel, cloves, cardamon and cinnamon powder.
  • Add the spice powder last and mix
  • Transfer the meat in a rectangular baking dish (9x13 inch), spread and evenly flatten the meat
  • Prepare the mashed potatoes and spread it on top. Brush the top of the mashed potatoes with melted butter. Rake through with a fork and create a pattern that will brown when baking
  • Place the dish in the preheated oven and cook until golden brown on top (about 20 min)
  • Optional: If needed broil for 3 min to brown the top.

Photo shown is stock photography and not the actual end result.