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Yesh’s Bean Stew & Isra’s Buddhist Pie

February 9, 2012

Bean stew is such a ubiquitous veggie option, I think it gets rather overlooked – and that’s a very sad thing, because a good bean stew is warming, nutritious, and intensely flavoursome. But we all know how to make it, right? Take tins of beans (butter beans, pinto beans, kidney beans – a good mix of your favourite) and mingle with tinned tomatoes, chilli, fried onions … maybe a bit of stock if it needs more moisture. Add your choice of spices, some salt and pepper, a little coffee, some star anise … whatever tickles you.

And then you stick it on the stove and heat it up. Boom. A meal to fall on like a ravenous wolf – especially when the night is cold and Shaun the Sheep is playing on the DVD player.

Never watched Shaun the Sheep? People, you gotta.

You just gotta.

OK, so I’m making the bean stew sound simple, and it is – but there’s an art to a truly delicious bean stew, and my theory is that nothing is going to teach you that art but trial and error. I’ve followed a hundred recipes, and some have been good, others bad, others … well. The dog enjoyed it. But Yesh is unchallenged Queen of the Bean, and I bow to her. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch her cooking, so I don’t actually know what she did to make it so divine – but it was rich in tomato and garlic, wonderfully piquant (I think Cayenne Pepper played a large part in this), and so satisfying it gave you that inside-outside warm feeling of pure delight.

Copyright Tastespotting

But, the thing is, when you open all those cans of beans, you’re faced with a bit of a dilemma. Do you use some of all of them and decant the remainder into several different storage tubs? Do you mix all the remaining beans together into one large tub? Or do you do the sensible thing and chuck them all into the stew, making the most humungous amount that no __(insert correct number of people in household)__Ā  people could eat in one sitting?

If, like Yesh, you go for the Humungous Stew option, you’re then faced with The Dreaded Leftovers!! Do you want to eat the same meal twice in a row? Or even twice in one week? Or, if you’re a bit more cavalier in your attitude to bacteria, twice in two weeks?

Oh, I know, it’s not exactly much of a dilemma, is it? You can freeze it, after all. Stick it in the ol’ freezer, forget about it, and unearth it at the time of the Environmental Apocalypse. It’ll be a lovely surprise.

Or you can make it into something new! Hurrah. That. of course, is what I did.

When I were an eater o’ meat, like, I used to love a good Shepherd’s Pie. It’s one of those deceptively simple meals, with which you can actually spend blissful, creative hours experimenting. Cook the mince with red wine and cinnamon? A touch of mace, perchance? Or go for a darker, earthier taste with Worcester Sauce, mushrooms, and some finely chopped anchovies? Ah, the hours of deliberation …

BUT! All is not lost in my little veggie gluten free world. Oh no. For there are always lentils!

And so the Buddhist Pie was born.


  1. 250g dry green lentils
  2. 500ml water/gluten free veg. stock
  3. 2 tsp cumin
  4. Bowl of rich, spicy, leftover bean stew
  5. 1 small onion (unless there are lots of onions already in your bean stew)
  6. Handful of mushrooms
  7. 1 small carrot
  8. 3 large potatoes
  9. 1 tsp mustard
  10. Glug of milk (soya or other)
  11. 15g butter
  12. Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling


Yes. This one’s mine. And no – not shown in its best light!

  1. Put the lentils in a pot and cover with water/stock
  2. Add 1tsp cumin to the water, and boil until soft (30 mins?)
  3. Dice and fry carrot, onions & mushrooms in the other tsp cumin
  4. When the lentils are soft (to your taste), combine with leftover bean stew and everything else
  5. Bring to a simmer, adjusting spices & seasoning as you see fit
  6. Scrub & chop spuds, and boil – skins on, if the spuds are nice enough
  7. Put the beany, lentilly mix into an oven dish
  8. Mash the spuds with butter, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard
  9. Spoon the mash onto the lentilly, beany mix
  10. Grate a fine dusting of parmesan on top
  11. Bake in the oven until hot through
  12. Stuff into your face

We served it with some steamed spinach. And yes, we now have an enoooooormous amount of leftover Buddhist Pie. But, frankly, I have no issue with eating it twice in one week. Or twice in one day. Or saving it for the Environmental Apocalypse. Whatever you think is best.

Hope you enjoy!

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