Meat-free pie

To assist in the annual struggle against cold weather, make and serve this hearty, warming, comforting and fine-tasting meat-free pie.

Meat-free pie
Photo: Photo: Peter Whitfield | Styling: Nomvuselelo Mncube

First some theory. A pie, regardless of content, is contained in pastry. You can drive yourself out of your mind if you so wish and make your own pastry. The quick and safe alternative, however, awaits you in your supermarket’s freezer.

Now for the filling. Pie diners who respond badly to chillies can simply leave them out, as a
couple of dashes of red Tabasco will provide that welcome flicker of spicy warmth.

To make this pie for two diners, you will need:

For the filling:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 50mm fresh root ginger
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (or 1 bay leaf plus 10 finely chopped basil leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous dash or two of red Tabasco
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
  • A couple of sprigs of coriander leaves to garnish

For the hotter option:

  • 1 or 2 finely chopped big red chillies with pips

First some theory. A pie, regardless of content, is contained in pastry. You can drive yourself out of your mind if you so wish and make your own pastry. The quick and safe alternative, however, awaits you in your supermarket’s freezer.

Now for the filling. Pie diners who respond badly to chillies can simply leave them out, as a
couple of dashes of red Tabasco will provide that welcome flicker of spicy warmth.

1 Crush, peel and mince the garlic, peel and thinly slice the onion, and grate the ginger. Drain the chickpeas and white beans, and have them standing by in a bowl.

2 In a saucepan, bring the oil up to medium high on the hob and sweat the garlic and ginger for 60 seconds, then add the sliced onion. Reduce the heat to medium and sweat the onion until it is soft and translucent, stirring from time to time to avoid adhesions.

3 At this point, stir in the spices, then add the beans and chickpeas. Stir gently to evenly disperse the spices, taking care not to break up the fragile chickpeas and white beans.

4 Add a cup of water, fit the saucepan lid and reduce to the slowest simmer for the flavours to perfuse, noting that the canned chickpeas and white beans have been precooked by the manufacturer. When the liquid has thickened, kill the heat, fit the lid and remove the pot from the hot hob.

5 Select a glass or ceramic pie dish and line the bottom and sides with a thin layer of pastry. Pour in the cooked filling and create a lid of pastry for the top. Pierce this to allow
steam to escape. Depending on the depth, you may need an inverted egg cup in the middle of the pie as a central support structure. Bake the pie in a prewarmed oven to the temperature and for the time suggested on the pastry packaging.

David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.