Lebanese Siniyeh Batata with Marcelle
The holidays are a good time to count our blessings, and especially those of friendship.
Today was just one of those special times when Marcelle visited.
Lebanese coffee, small tin pot, and cups in gear she busied over my oven preparing the dark fine grounds stirring the rich blend constantly to perfection while I photographed the beautiful dinner she had so graciously prepared as a special gift, Siniyeh Batata. Conversation is always lively and informative over Marcelle’s tray of steaming Lebanese coffee eagerly refilled when the little cup is barely half empty.
This dish is prepared a variety of ways depending on regional tastes throughout Lebanon as Marcelle says, “Just like people in different states across the United States cook the same things in different ways.” Marcelle’s regional version of Siniyeh Batata made with ground beef and not lamb, is very plain, yet very flavorful and comforting.
Siniyeh Batata is made of a few simple ingredients, potatoes (batata), and ground beef cooked in a bit of oil with onions, allspice, and pepper, then topped and smoothed over with breadcrumbs and some pieces of butter to melt through and flavor the crumbs while baking. The variety made by Marcelle looks like traditional Kibbe, and so I have always called it, Potato Kibbe.
We worked on the translated English word spelling Marcelle came up with ‘Siniyeht’. This word took a few tries for me to get a syntax understanding since it has always been my respect, eagerness, and patience in understanding accented and foreign words to English that has earned me friends from around the world, and not my natural knack for picking up on languages.
Thank you Marcelle, we love and greatly appreciate the food from your Lebanese American Kitchen!
- Enough oil to grease a long glass casserole dish all around
- Preparing the Potato Mixture:
- 3-4 pounds peeled potatoes
- ¼ cup milk, approximately, to moisten the potatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Preparing the Ground Beef Mixture:
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 1/2- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- Preparing the Topping:
- 1 cup bread crumbs, approximately, enough to fully cover and spread across potatoes
- 4 tablespoons butter, approximately, cut into pieces and topped over the breadcrumbs
- Cook potatoes until tender, drain, then mash with a little milk just to moisten, sprinkle in salt, and adjust seasoning to taste
- Carefully spread half of the potato mixture, about an inch thickness into the greased glass casserole dish
- Heat a large skillet, add in the oil then swirl to cover the bottom of the pan, add in the ground beef and onions then sprinkle in the allspice and pepper, stir through
- Carefully spread the cooked ground beef mixture on top of the mashed potatoes covering the length of the casserole dish
- Spread the remaining half of the potatoes on top of the ground beef mixture
- Top with the breadcrumbs covering smoothly and evenly across
- Drop over the butter bits
- Cover the Siniyeh Batata with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for thirty-five to forty minutes until cooked through, do not overcook by browning the potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Cool, Cut into small squares
- Siniyeh Batata squares may be reheated in the microwave