The Maharani Mohini Kumari’s Lamb Pie

Ten tigers watched over me as I ate dinner in the cathedral-like dining room of the Wankaner Palace. Everything else in this vast and elaborate Edwardian edifice, standing on its hill above the town of Wankaner in Gujarat, India, is slightly dusty but the 95 beasts’ heads high up on every wall still look glossy and almost alive.

A member of the Wankaner royal family gave me this recipe, which is typical of the many Anglo-Indian-style dishes that the family have eaten since the days of the British Raj. I like the pie best with just a green vegetable or a salad.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece fresh ginger
  • 4 medium onions
  • 675 g/ lb lamb fillets
  • 40 g/ oz butter
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ level teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
  • 300 ml/½ pint milk
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste (available from Indian and oriental grocers)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 4 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt
  • 225-350 g/8-12 oz puff pastry
  • egg yolk or milk, to glaze
  • salt


Peel the garlic and ginger and chop finely. Peel the onions, cut them in half and slice fairly thinly in half rings. Cut the lamb fillets into roughly 5cm/2in pieces. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Melt the butter in a flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring quite often, until softened and well browned. Then stir in the ground spices and chopped garlic and ginger and continue stirring for a minute or so. Next, add the lamb pieces, stir them around to coat in the butter and remove from the heat. Stir in the flour and then gradually add the milk, followed by the tamarind paste, sugar and desiccated coconut. Put back over the heat and stir until the juices bubble and thicken.

Cover the casserole and cook in the centre of the oven for 1½ hours or until the lamb feels very tender when you test it with a knife. Then remove from the oven, stir in the yoghurt, add salt to taste and spoon into a pie dish or deep earthenware flan dish which the mixture fills to the top. Leave until cold.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Roll out the pastry into a piece big enough to cover the pie dish. Moisten the edges of the pie dish and lay the pastry on top. Trim the edges neatly and press round them with your fingers. Use the pastry trimmings to make decorations. Cut 2 holes in the pastry to let the steam escape, then brush with egg yolk or milk to glaze and cook in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is a rich brown.