Credit: The Kitchen Prescription by Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed is published by Yellow Kite in hardback, priced at £25

Photo credit: The Kitchen Prescription by Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, Hodder & Stoughton Publishers © 2023, photography copyright © Steven Joyce 2023

Who can deny the comfort of a good cottage pie? The creamy mash hides the umami-rich interior, and the combination of both is one of the best things to come out of British cuisine. Really perfect for a weekend dinner. This gut-loving version has the added advantage of contributing to your gut health; the vast range of vegetables and legumes used, along with the addition of anti-inflammatory turmeric make it a terrific gut-healthy alternative to conventional cottage pie. To maximise the fibre content, I have intentionally left half the potato skins on."

Serves 4 (With leftovers)


  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 leek, finely diced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • ½ carrot, finely diced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mild-medium chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin cherry tomatoes
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 100g (3½oz / ½ cup) dried green lentils
  • 50g (2oz / ¼ cup) brown lentils
  • 50g (2oz / ¼ cup) red lentils
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin pinto beans, drained
  • Salt, to taste 

For the mash  

  • 800g (1lb 12oz) Maris Piper potatoes
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 25g (1oz) finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g (2oz) butter
  • 125ml (4fl oz / ½ cup) warm milk
  • 50g (2oz / ½ cup) grated mature Cheddar cheese  


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and started to take on some colour. Now add the leek, celery, red pepper and carrot and stir well. Sweat the vegetables for about 7 minutes until they are soft and jammy.
  3. At this point, add the turmeric, cumin seeds, chilli powder, garam masala and oregano. This will transform the vegetables completely. Add the tinned cherry tomatoes to the vegetables along with the stock cube and 600ml (20fl oz / 2½ cups) of kettle-hot water. When the mixture has come to the boil, add the three types of dried lentils. Stir well and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils have cooked through (if they still haven’t lost their bite after 20 minutes, continue to cook for another 5–10 minutes). If the mixture starts looking too dry at any point, add a touch more water; you are aiming for a thick, gravy-like consistency. To complete the dish, add the drained pinto beans, season with salt to taste and spoon the mixture into a pie dish.
  4. Peel half the potatoes and leave the skin on for the other half. Chop them into even-sized chunks and boil them in a saucepan for about 12 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Drain in a colander and return the potatoes to the pan. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds, butter and milk to the potatoes and season with salt to taste. Mash the potatoes until everything is well combined, then spoon the potatoes over the lentil mixture and sprinkle over the cheese. Transfer to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the surface is brown and crunchy in places. 

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