Search This Blog

Thursday, 17 May 2012


We've started to play a new game, Ranbir and I.

The rules are fairly simple:

"Hiding!" – he announces excitedly, as he positions himself behind a plant or under the table or behind the pram. He’s completely visible, but that’s hardly the point.

I have to pretend I can't see him.

I also have to scrunch up my face and pretend I am genuinely worried. If I don't, he repeats "hiding!" about forty three times, as if the sound of the word (oft repeated) should somehow convince me that he is in fact, well and truly "hiding."

Next, I have to pretend to look everywhere – in all the obvious places – and make a big fuss about not finding him. I must lift up the covers of the bed, look behind the door, peer inside every closet, and be absolutely thorough (otherwise, I just get “hiding!” another forty three times)

He giggles as I do this, his laughter getting louder and louder the more places I look, the more worried I pretend to be.

Finally, I steal a look in his direction, do an exaggerated double-take and make believe that I've – finally – found him. I heave a big (pretend) sigh and look mighty relieved and say "Oooooh! You’re so clever! But I FOUND you!"

(It's not over…)

Next, he runs away and I have to catch him. For some reason that I find absolutely hysterical, he always runs himself into a corner and crouches there, head bent, arms huddled together, as if willing himself to become invisible! When I get to the corner, he squeals with anticipation and then bursts into loud and uncontrollable peals of laughter as I tickle him all over his little body. His laughter is so contagious, so all-encompassing – like the sun breaking through the clouds – that I cannot help but throw back my head and laugh too. We end the game with a big, long, delicious cuddle. It is perhaps the only time ever that he allows himself to be held. But just for a minute. Then he wriggles out of my arms.

And then we have to do it all over again.

But I don’t mind. It’s tiring work, all that pretending, but truth be told, I will do anything, anything, to hear those cute giggles. I just can’t get enough of them. Ranbir’s laughter is nothing like I’d imagined it to be and it cracks me up every time. His eyes twinkle, his cheeks dimple and when he laughs, his whole body laughs with him. It’s natural and it’s beautiful and it just makes me smile.

So, this is for Ranbir and soon enough you’ll know why!

I’m making Shepherd’s Pie, a classic British dish made with minced lamb (because Shepherds look after sheep!). Feel free to use chicken or turkey mince (but I can tell you it won’t taste as good!). My method is really simple – today is all about simple: simple game, simple rules, simple method, simple food. But this (simply) means that you (simply) can’t mess up :-)

Here’s what you need:

For the mince…

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 700g minced lamb
- 4 tbsp tomato purée
- 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 bay leaves
- 450ml chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste

For the mash…

- 700g potatoes
- 80g butter
- 55ml milk

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Heat the oil in a saucepan, and cook onions and carrots for a few minutes till soft. Next, crumble in the lamb and brown on high heat, breaking up any lumps as you fry the meat. Add the bay leaves, tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, and mix well for all the flavours to be absorbed. Pour over the stock, bring to a boil, season to taste, then let simmer for 40-45 minutes.

For the mash, boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes until completely tender. Drain, and then mash with the butter and milk.

Pour the mince into an ovenproof dish, spread the mash on top and – this is my favourite bit – make many zigzag lines with a fork. I'm a child, I know.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top turns a beautiful golden brown and the mince bubbles through at the edges! Yum!

I wait for the dish to cool down completely and take it (the whole thing, as is) to the dining table. I hand Ranbir his yellow plastic fork and take the blue one for myself. Then I stare at the dish for a long time, scrunch up my face and pretend to look worried.

Ranbir looks intently at me, wondering what on earth I’m doing.

I fork over the mashed potatoes till I get to the meat at the bottom.

I pause, as understanding and anticipation floods his little face…

I wait for the smile to break out and then, the first tiny peals of laughter…

…and then, I joyfully declare – “Hiding!”


  1. this dish has to be made at home now! better send nimmi the link! :)

  2. Yes you must!! It's one of those rare times when the kid doesn't fuss over food :D
    And you guys can make it with mutton - sooo much yummier!!!

  3. Adorable post. I want to give him a big hug too and hear those peals of laughter. :-)