Nigerian meat-free pies (version 2)

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For my second attempt at making vegan meatpies (see first attempt here), I decided to make a healthier, tastier version of the conventional wheat flour crust by mixing wholewheat flour with chickpea flour. (Last time I used oatmeal-quinoa flour.) The chickpeas add such an interesting flavour to the crust, you should definitely try it. I still had to use oil to get the flaky crust this time; next time I make pies I’ll experiment with an oil free crust.

 

What you will need

*makes 6-12 pies, depending on size

For the filling

+ 1 cup brown lentils, soaked for at least 2 hours

+ 1/2 cup diced carrots

+ 1/2 cup peas

+ 1/2 cup sweetcorn

+ 1/2 cup diced green beans

+ 1 cup soya mince/chunks (optional)

+ 1 small red onion, diced

+ 1.5 teaspoon crushed/minced garlic

+ 1 cup diced butternut squash/irish potatoes/sweet potatoes

+ 2 tablespoons wholewheat flour

+ 3 tablespoons liquid aminos/soy sauce

+ spices: 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon chilli pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, salt

For the pastry

+ 2 cups wholewheat flour

+ 1 cup chickpea flour

+ 2 tablespoons unrefined brown sugar

+ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

+ 1/2 teaspoon salt

+ 6-10 tablespoons ice water

22 May 2016 edit: I got even better results with the crust using milk instead of water. Replace the ice water with cold plant milk for a richer crust.

 

How to make it

While making the filling, put your pastry making utensils in the freezer – mixing bowl, rolling pin, food processor blade – as well as the water you will use. Everything needs to be kept cold to prevent the gluten from being activated so you can get flaky pie crust.

Making the filling

Step 1: Boil the lentils and butternut squash or potatoes in separate pots until softened but not fully cooked. Drain and set aside. In another pot, sautee the onions and garlic in the liquid aminos/soy sauce. Add a little water to prevent burning and stir occasionally. When the onions are softened, add the soya mince, lentils, spices and 1 cup water to the pot. Leave to simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the green beans and squash to the pot. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes, then add the carrots and peas. Cover and leave to simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the sweetcorn.

Step 3: Combine the flour with enough water to form a smooth thick paste, and stir this into the filling; this will thicken the filling in a few minutes. Add more flour or water if necessary. Turn off the heat and leave the pot uncovered so the filling can cool.

Making the pastry

Step 1: If doing this by hand, mix the flours, salt and sugar together thoroughly in your cold bowl from the freezer. Add the oil slowly and mix well into the flour with a fork until the mixture becomes crumbly. Break up any clumps larger than pea size with your fingers. Then begin to add the ice water a tablespoon at a time. When the mixture can no longer be mixed with a fork, use your hands. Stop adding water when the dough gets sticky enough to mould.

If using a food processor, put all the ingredients except the water and pulse until you have a crumbly mixture. Then add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to hold together.

Step 2: On a floured surface knead the dough for a few minutes and mould into a ball. If it’s too crumbly to mould, add a tiny bit more water. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. You don’t want to rest it for too long or it will become hard because of the chickpea flour.

Step 3: Flour your work surface and flatten the dough on it with your fist. With the cold rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about half a centimetre thick. Using a round object like a bowl or pot cover, cut out a circle. Keep the excess in a bowl covered with a damp cloth. Roll out the circle just a bit thinner, and then it’s ready for filling!

Step 4: Wet the edges of the circle with water – just use a wet finger. This will help it close. Put a heaped tablespoon of filling (or more, depending on the size of your pie) on one side of the circle. It should not be so small that the pie is not full, but not too much or it will burst open. Fold over and press down the edges to close. Use a fork to press down the edges firmly to securely close (and decorate) the pie. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Step 5: Bake the pies on a wax paper lined tray for 35 mins at 180 degrees celsius until the crust is firm. At 10 minutes, use a fork to pierce holes in the top for steam to escape – it’s much easier to do this when the crust has firmed up slightly. After 35 mins turn off the oven and leave the pies in for another 15 minutes. And you’re done! I know they smell good but leave them to cool small before you burn your tongue on that hot filling like I did 🙂

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All this veggie goodness going into the filling

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Ready for the oven

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final
Gooey filling, flaky crust. Heaven!
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