Spiced Spinach Pie with Coconut Milk Top

This vegetarian supper dish is one of my favourites. The spinach is topped with a delicious mixture made of ground rice and creamy coconut milk. If possible, use whole spices and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder-they will be far more aromatic.


  • 1.1 kg/ lb fresh spinach
  • 4-5 cm/1½-2 in piece fresh ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 50 g/2 oz butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • sea salt

For the topping

  • 750 ml/ pints milk
  • 75 g/3 oz coconut milk powder
  • 40 g/ oz ground rice
  • 2-3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 level teaspoon paprika


To make the filling, remove any thick stalks from the spinach, then wash the leaves thoroughly. Put into a large saucepan, cover and put over a fairly low heat for a few minutes until the leaves are limp, stirring around once or twice. Drain the spinach well, pressing out excess water, and then chop up fairly small.

Peel the ginger and garlic. Cut the chilli open under running water, discard the seeds and stem, then put it on a board with the ginger and garlic and chop together finely. Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chilli, ginger, garlic and ground spices and stir around for a minute or two. Then add the chopped spinach and lemon juice and stir over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes; any excess liquid should evaporate. Season to taste with crushed sea salt, adding a little cayenne pepper if wanted, and put into a wide, fairly shallow ovenproof dish.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. To make the topping, pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and thoroughly stir in the coconut milk powder and a sprinkling of salt. Then stir in the ground rice. Put back over a medium heat until bubbling, stirring all the time, then simmer, still stirring, for 3-5 minutes until thickened — if it seems very thick, stir in a little extra milk. Remove from the heat, season with the cayenne pepper and more salt if needed and spoon over the spinach. Sprinkle the paprika over the centre of the topping. Put the dish just above the centre of the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until the top begins to brown.