Variations of fish pie are endless – but this one, imbued with smoky Madras curry powder, and a sauce with flecks of saffron in the most luxurious way, is my favourite by far. It’s comforting and cosy, yet the flavours are impressive enough for entertaining. Use smoked fish if you like, but I much prefer the clean flavour of fresh fish with sweet chubby prawns and plenty of freshly chopped coriander.
spinach leaves 200g
rapeseed oil 2 tbsp
onion 1, finely chopped
leek 1, thinly sliced
celery 2 sticks, thinly sliced
garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped
Madras curry powder 1 heaped tbsp
saffron threads a generous pinch
double cream 300ml
mature cheddar or parmesan 2 handfuls, grated
lemon juice of 1
chopped coriander large handful
cod or other white fish 450g fillet, skinned and pin-boned
peeled raw prawns 200g, deveined
hard-boiled eggs 2, shelled and quartered
sea salt and black pepper
For the topping
whole milk 40ml
double cream 40ml
garlic 1 clove, bruised
black peppercorns ½ tsp
onion 1 small, studded with 4 cloves
bay leaf 1
ground turmeric 1 tsp
smoked hot paprika ½ tsp
floury potatoes 750g, peeled and diced
egg yolks 2
First make the topping. Put the milk and cream into a small saucepan and pop in the garlic, peppercorns, clove-studded onion, bay leaf, turmeric and paprika. Slowly bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse while you get on with the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the potatoes and cook until tender.
Steam the spinach for the filling in a colander above the pan of potatoes until wilted, then allow to cool slightly and squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands. Chop roughly.
Drain and mash the potatoes until smooth and lump-free. Beat in the butter and egg yolks. Strain the infused milk and cream, discarding the solids, then slowly pour into the mash and combine thoroughly.
For the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the onion, leek and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until pale and translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder and saffron, and cook for a further 30 seconds, then pour in the cream and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, lemon juice, coriander and salt and pepper to taste. Put the spinach, fish, prawns and eggs into a pie dish and pour over the sauce. Top with the mash and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. Serve at once.
From Jikoni by Ravinder Bhogal (Bloomsbury, £26)