Meet your baker

[Recipe 1] KEEMA ALOO (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) with GLUTEN-FREE DOSAS transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED BEEF and VEGETABLE MINI PASTIES
……………..
I’m not normally an OMG-double-exclamation-mark type of girl but OMG!! I’ve been baking my butt off!! On Saturday we hosted a mega combined party for our boys – one turned 6 and the other 9 (still can’t quite believe we have a 9 year old).
Having a combo party was fantastic but the biggest job was the catering, including TWO birthday cakes. There were 30 kids + adults. Yikes.
Our freezer was positively heaving by Friday. I made a huge batch of tsukune (teriyaki chicken balls), 100 mini margherita pizzas, a massive tray of honey joys (yep, you can freeze them in case you were wondering) and 80 Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties; plus platters of the usual party fare (fairy bread, fruit, guacamole, snags etc).
I’m a bit chuffed as my little pasties turned out beautifully, and there were quite a few requests for the recipe. My boys loved them, and they went down really well with both the adults and the kids at the party. They came about when I had a lightbulb moment while making a vat of my Keema aloo (Indian spiced minced beef and potatoes) – it’s the perfect pastie filler! I used store-bought shortcrust pastry too, so they were incredibly easy to make.
My boys adore Keema aloo (I’m yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like a minced beef based dinner). It’s perfect for kiddy palates as it’s lightly spiced; and adult serves can be jazzed up with kasoundi (this recipe is great), a finely chopped red chilli or a dash of Tabasco. It can be frozen too, so it’s perfect for a quick mid-week dinner.
We roll up the keema aloo in easy home-made dosas (Indian-style pancakes). My dosa recipe is based on one by Jamie Oliver – I omit the mustard seeds and use gluten-free plain flour. Gluten-free flour (I like Orgran brand) contains maize and rice flours, making for a lovely light dosa batter.
So, our freezer is now spookily empty, but the oven is remaining off for quite a while while I recover from my baking overdose.

Keema Aloo (spiced Indian mince)[Recipe 1] Keema aloo (spiced minced beef and potatoes) with gluten-free dosas

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; or 4 for 2 meals plus 40 mini pasties):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ kilos (3 lb) minced (ground) beef
3 large potatoes (approx. 750g/1½ lb), peeled, chopped into small pieces
2 large carrots, chopped into very small pieces (approx. 5mm/¼”)
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1½ cups (375ml) water
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see tips below recipe)
2 cups fresh podded or frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Home-made gluten-free dosas or store-bought dosas, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Spicy accompaniment for adults (eg. kasoundi, finely chopped red chilli or Tabasco)

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, garam masala, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cloves; and cook for 1–2 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. 
Add potatoes, carrot, tomato paste and water and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes. Add lentils and peas, and simmer for a further 15 minutes, covered, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add a splash more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Season to taste.
Divide the the Keema aloo into plastic containers.
 The Keema aloo recipe will yield three portions of about 5 cups (1¼ kilos/2½ lb) each (1¼ kilos/2½ lb will serve four).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) Keema aloo for the Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties. The third portion can be frozen for another day.
Serve remaining Keema aloo with dosas and raita. Keema aloo can be placed into individual bowls, so people can roll up their own.

  • Keema aloo can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema aloo with steamed basmati rice instead of dosa, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Spiced beef and vegetable pasties

[Recipe 2] Spiced beef and vegetable mini pasties

Ingredients (makes 40 – recipe can be doubled if required):
10 x 25cm (8″) sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
♦ 1 portion (5 cups/1¼ kilos) reserved Keema aloo
2 eggs, lightly whisked
Easy spiced tomato chutney, store-bought chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup) to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Use a 10cm (4″) round pastry cutter (or trace around a 10cm/4″ plate or Milo tin) to cut 4 discs from each pastry sheet.
♦ Spoon one heaped tablespoon of reserved Keema aloo onto each pastie circle. Don’t be tempted to overfill them or they’ll pop open.
Fold pasties in half to enclose filling. Seal edges of pastry with water and use fingertips to gently crimp and seal. Place on the lined trays. Lightly brush the tops of the pasties with egg.
You can bake one batch while you prepare the remaining pasties if your oven won’t accommodate two trays.
Bake in hot oven for 15–18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce (ketchup).

  • If using refrigerated Keema aloo (not frozen), cooked pasties are suitable to freeze, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper (or plastic sheets from the pastry pack) between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 10–15 minutes.
  • Instead of 10 sheets, you can use 8 sheets shortcrust pastry and seal the leftover strips of pastry together with water to make the extra 2 sheets.

32 thoughts on “Meet your baker

    • Thank you Yasmeen! This recipe is iron-packed, with the beef and the lentils. Actually, you could throw in a handful of chopped spinach towards the end for an even bigger burst of iron.

  1. I feel the need to go and lie down just after reading about your cooking bonanza, Saskia. It sounds like the party was a resounding success – happy birthdays all round! Yes, 9 is a bit of an eye-opener: next year is double digits! Those recipes, as always, look heavenly. And of course I’m snapping up those dosas for my GF household. Thanks again!

    • Thanks df. Yes, you or hubby must whip up a batch of the dosas. They’re a triple banger – easy, kid-friendly and tasty!
      Double-digits are a spooky prospect – he’s already so tall, and well, big. It’s the thought of those looming giant boy feet (and shoes!) that freaks me out the most though. I don’t remember boys having such gargantuan feet back in my day.

  2. My girls are about to turn 5 and 8 and I’m about to lose my mind (again!). It happens every year at the exact same time that my husband heads off for his annual fishing trip. Wouldn’t you know it — work is getting crazy too with an unexpected large project that is due by month end!
    I’m afraid I’m not as courageous as you — I don’t cater all the food for my parties. Did you make the dosas too? Everything sure looks amazing Saskia — especially the pasties. I wish I could get the girls to eat them! I just made your chili coleslaw tonight for dinner with some barbeque chicken. I really enjoyed it…and tossed in a few peanuts for good measure. I’ll be making it again this summer.

    • I’m not sure if I’m courageous or just plain loopy! Can’t believe your husband’s annual fishing trip coincides with both girl’s birthdays!! Poor you. I did make the dosas, and they’re super easy, basically glorified pancakes. My 9-year old loves making them too. Fantastic you made my chilli coleslaw, and I love the idea of adding peanuts. Will try that myself.

  3. I must tell you how impressive this is! I couldn’t even imagine baking up all of those dishes and in such quantities. Your party will be the talk of the town with the spread you put on for everyone! You must begin a catering company one day… or not, lol, but please keep sharing your photos and recipes with us, this looks fantastic, Saskia! xx

    • Thanks so much Barbara. I’m very happy to put on my catering hat once a year. Honestly, that hat goes off to folks who do it daily though. Just the thought gives me the heebie jeebies!

  4. Oh Saskia, I love these mini pastries! They are adorable and look really easy to make…they are such a perfect little entertaining dish too! You are so creative at always coming up with these double recipes!

    • Thanks so much Brandi. You’re the second US commenter to refer to them as pastries. I don’t know if ‘pastie’ is used in the US. If not, you must’ve thought I’d made an amusing typo, considering pasties are also an, ahem, interesting minimal lady costume. I guess pastie is more of a Brit/Australian word. It rhymes with nasty, as opposed to the lady accessory!

  5. Hi Sass, thanks as always! This is my favourite sort of winter/ freezer recipe. I am going to try it next week and hopefully make both versions… Great to have another gluten free recipe too — I find gluten free friends difficult to cater for.

  6. Now I love baking, love it a lot. But for some reason I get nervous when birthdays approach and what food to make for them. They STRESS me out! So Saskia…can you do the catering for my little boys birthday coming up :-) He would love everything you mentioned, promise.

    • There was a fair bit of stress here too, particularly as we’d booked a playground for the day and the forecast was for rain. I was in a panic at the thought of 30 kids in our house!! Thankfully the sun reared its beautiful head in the morning though and stayed out for the whole day. Brydie, I think you of all people would be an amazing caterer! My only advice would be to start now and freeze, freeze, freeze!

  7. Sounds like a fun and delicious party you had there. I think combining the 2 parties into one is the way to go. :) Bet you don’t want another baking over-do anytime soon. :) But these home-made dosas look amazing. So pretty.

  8. Those dosas look amazing – so light and fluffy. Love the sound of these, a great change from bolognaise. I wish you would share photos of the party cakes and spread! Loved your efforts for last year.

    • Thanks Pinry! The dosas are definitely lovely and light. I’m sure the GF flour is the key to their fluffiness. I was thinking I’d share some party photos, wonky cakes and all – thanks for the encouragement. Stay tuned!

    • Thanks Cass! Utterly exhausting, but worth the effort. A whole year ’til we face it again! The dosas are great, and June is an excellent idea – the perfect way to start off Winter.

    • So, you’re a ‘dosa with an h’ type of girl? I would never have picked it. And yes, they’re pretty damn good. They’re great for breakfast too – filled with scrambled eggs, rocket, bacon, fresh tomato and chilli sauce. Mmmm.

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