One chef, one recipe: Ashish Bhasin makes spiced cranberry chicken shepherd’s pie

Chef Ashish Bhasin, Executive Chef at The Leela Ambience, Gurugram Hotel & Residences prepares a Shepherd’s Pie but gives it a very special Christmas touch. 

Chef Ashish Bhasin gives a Christmas twist to Shepherd’s Pie by adding cranberry, prunes, spices, and wine to this old-fashioned favourite that he makes with chicken. He says, “When I think of Christmas the first thing that comes to my mind is roast turkey with cranberry jus but here it is tough to find and roast one, so we thought of using chicken, cranberry, and something which is classical — hence a Shepherd’s Pie.”

Chef ashish bhasin
Chef Ashish Bhasin

During his 23-year-stint, Chef Bhasin has worked at The Oberoi in New Delhi and Jaipur, the Trident at Udaipur and Bandra Kurla in Mumbai, and The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, Red Sea in Egypt. He’s an award-winning chef who loves to cook with his daughter and enjoys trying out new recipes with her. He is also doing research on lost cuisines, indigenous ingredients and delving into how foreign influences add to our local cuisines. 

This is an easy recipe to try at home with classic Christmas flavours.

Suggested read: Nature’s Basket Cook-A-Thon: Christmas special stuffed chicken supreme by Chef Neeraj Tyagi

Spiced cranberry chicken shepherd’s pie

Spiced cranberry chicken shepherd’s pie


Chicken filling

  • 500 grams minced chicken
  • 50 grams chopped onion
  • 20 grams chopped garlic
  • 15 grams chopped leeks   
  • 30 grams chopped celery
  • 20 grams chopped carrots
  • Orange zest from 1 orange
  • 50 grams cranberries
  • 1 no. cinnamon stick
  • 2 no. star anise
  • 50 ml red wine
  • 30 grams chopped prunes
  • 150 ml stock 
  • 5 grams crushed black pepper
  • 25 grams tomato paste
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 10 grams thyme leaves
  • 15 grams butter

Mashed potatoes

  • 200 grams potatoes
  • 50 grams butter
  • 40 ml cream
  • Salt to taste

Method for chicken filling

  • Add the oil and butter in a pan. Place it over medium-high heat till the butter melts and gets mixed with the oil completely.
  • Add cinnamon and star anise and cook till you can smell the aroma.
  • Add onions and salt and let them sweat.
  • Put in the chopped garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Add carrots, celery and leeks and then cook for another minute.
  • Add the minced chicken and break it apart with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle the salt, crushed pepper and fresh thyme.
  • Stir well and cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the prunes, cranberries and red wine and cook till it’s been completely absorbed.
  • Add tomato paste and stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.
  • Add the broth and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and then set the meat mixture aside.

Method for mashed potatoes

  • Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.
  • Mash them with a fork.
  • Add butter in a saucepan and then put in some cream and add salt.
  • Stir together till you form an emulsion.
  • Add the mashed and boiled potatoes and stir for a few minutes.


  • Sprinkle some celery on the chicken mixture.
  • Grate some orange zest and mix it well.
  • Put the chicken mixture at the base of the bowl and spread it out into an even layer.
  • Pour the mashed potatoes into a piping bag and pipe them on top of the chicken filling.
  • Carefully spread into an even layer.
  • Caramelise the potatoes from top by using a torch. Alternatively you can bake it uncovered for 3-5 minutes at 400° F till the potatoes get a golden-brown colour on top.

Garnish it with cherries, thyme sprig and herbs.

Shepherd's pie layered plating
Shepherd’s Pie layered plating
  • For a layered plating take a ring and add the mince and press it down nicely.
  • Pipe mashed potatoes on top and torch the potatoes for a caramelised colour.
  • Remove the ring and garnish with cherries, thyme sprig and herbs.

Read more. 

Nature’s Basket Cook-A-Thon: Roasted Pumpkin and Orange Soup by Chef Sarabjeet