Meatless Nigerian meatpie

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I made vegan meatpies! To understand my excitement you first need to understand my relationship with baking. Pastry making requires a kind of superhuman discipline with measuring the exact amount of ingredients and doing things exactly as the recipe describes. In other words, too precise for me. I’m the worst at following simple instructions,  in the kitchen and in general. In primary school I regularly finished my packed lunch before lunch time. In secondary school when it was lights out that was when I decided I would do my laundry. Chronic rule breaker from day 1, that’s me. So you can imagine how impossible I would find the precise science of baking.

Since my failed  attempt at cookies years ago I resigned myself to never being able to bake. But something got into my head this weekend that got me to try again. And it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Not without mishaps on the way though. My first crack at the pie dough went south very fast. Added too much water and it became chinchin dough. The second try went much better after I had done some Googling about what went wrong. And then I realised something. Once I am able to understand why each step of the process matters and why it has to be done a certain way, I no longer have problems. My big stumbling block before was my subconscious mistrust of unexplained things taken for granted. Now that I know a bit about the chemistry behind the process of preparing the dough, I’m no longer tempted to flout instructions. Three gbosas for knowledge!

Anyway let’s talk about this veggie meatpie recipe. I based it on the traditional Nigerian meatpie which is flaky outside and gooey and delicious inside – trademark of Mr Biggs meatpie. Maybe meatpies are like that elsewhere but I’ve only ever had meatpie in Nigeria. The way I made it vegan is actually really simple and straightforward. Just take out the minced meat from the filling recipe and use lentils instead. Mushrooms optional.

Of course the crust had to be vegan too so I looked up eggless pie dough recipes online and settled on this one. (Thank you internet!) It uses coconut oil in place of butter to get that flakiness. The oil has to be extra virgin – that is, cold pressed and very thick. I recommend Uwa Earth Foods coconut oil. Or maybe you can substitute coconut butter? (Let me keep quiet before the gods of baking discipline strike me down…) The other thing about the crust is that you won’t get the same results with any gluten free flour. I tried and failed – reason being that the gluten is responsible for the flakiness of the crust. What I did was to mix white flour with quinoa-oats flour in a 2:1 ratio, to reduce the amount of white flour I had to use. For sugar I used Tate & Lyle’s vegan brown sugar (most white sugar is not vegan because animal bone charcoal is used to bleach it).

I’m not going to cover how to make the crust here because I’m not a pie dough expert. If you already know how to make meatpie crust, just do it the way you’ve always done. Otherwise you can follow the recipe I linked to above and substitute the flour and sugar as you see fit. I’m going to go straight to the filling recipe which is the fun part anyway 🙂

What you will need for the filling

I call this the fun part because unlike the crust, you are free to break the rules here. Add vegetables you like/are in season and take out those you don’t. The meatpie will not suffer. the only hard and fast rule is regarding the roux you have to add to make the filling moist and gooey (thanks Dooney for this tip!). This makes a lot of filling, enough for 10 – 15 meatpies. 

+ 2 cups lentils, boiled (brown, green, red, anything works. I used green lentils)

+ 4 carrots, diced

+ 1 large onion, diced

+ 10 small or 5 large chestnut mushrooms, diced

+ 1 cup frozen peas, diced

+ 1 cup frozen sweetcorn, diced

+ 1 handful green beans, diced

+ 1 butternut squash – peeled, diced and boiled *irish potatoes or sweet potatoes also work well. Just boil until soft and mushy

+ 1 tbsp iru/fermented locust beans

+ 2 tbsp olive oil

+ 4 tbsp flour *I used oats-quinoa flour but you can use any flour on hand

+ Spices – paprika, ground coriander, curry, salt

How to make it

1.Sautee the onions and iru in the olive oil until the onions become translucent.

2. Add the carrots and green beans and sautee for a few minutes. Then add 1/4 a cup of water and cover the pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes or until the carrots are tender (still crunch though, not soft!)

3. Stir in the mushrooms, corn and peas and add the spices gradually until you are satisfied with the taste.

4. Stir in the lentils and squash/potatoes, cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 3 minutes.

5. Mix the flour with a little water until it forms a thick paste. Mix the paste into your filling mix. Add a little water if it is still too thick. If there is too much water, add a bit of dry flour to the pot and mix in well. At this point the filling should have a gooey, sticky consistency.

6. Cover the pot to let the flour cook for 3 minutes, and you’re done! The great thing about this filling is the versatility. Use it in ravioli, lasagne, casserole…let your imagination be your guide.

For how to fill the pies, Dooney has directions here. No need for egg wash to close the pie though, water will do just fine.

I made mine with open ‘mouths’ because I’m stubborn 🙂

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Enjoy!

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