Have you ever had siniyah? It’s an amazing Palestinian dish that’s basically the Middle-Eastern version of a Shepherd’s Pie. It’s got an optional crust, a meaty middle with all the essential spices such as garlic, cumin, za’atar, and parsely, and is topped with tahini and pine nuts and sometimes some awesome vegetable like eggplant or cauliflower.
You already know my obsession with anything tahini, so it’s not surpising that this dish has got me drooling as well. If you think baked tahini is weird, you’re totally missing out on a whole delicious, shiny world of cooking!
This is a vegan version that I made, and I think it has rightfully earned its place in the list of ultimate comfort foods for winter.
It’s really nutritious, too, made with protein-packed lentils, healthy fats, and whole grains.
And the best part is… There is a way to Lazy Girl your way out of boiling the lentils! Give it a try. You will not be disappointed!
Estimated Time: 30 minute prep + 45 minute bake
Kosher Classification: Neutral
Music that Complements This Dish: Damien Rice – Volcano
1+1/3 cup bulgur wheat groats
4 Tbs. olive oil
4 Tbs. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup red lentils
1 cup green lentils (or sub 1 cup red lentils for Lazy Girl version)
1 cup black lentils (or sub 1 cup red lentils for Lazy Girl version)
1 large onion
1 fresh green hot chili pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 Tbs. za’atar (hyssop spice mix)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika is fine, too)
1/2 red chili flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (raw) tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2-3/4 cups water
1/2 cup nuts walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts
Start by making the bulgur base. If you’ve never cooked with bulgur, you’re in for a treat! These whole wheat groats come in varying levels of granularity and are super-quick to make. You can make them by boiling in water, microwaving, or soaking in hot water. We’re going to go with the latter method here.
Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over it, then cover and let sit until mostly cool.
In the meantime, rinse your lentils and bring to a boil, then simmer until they are soft and mushy. Unless you’re going with the Lazy Girl method* to this recipe, boil the black lentils separately.
While your lentils are boiling, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (which are 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
Once the lentils are cooked through, strain and allow them to cool so as to not to destroy your blender. If you want to speed up this process, you can run cold water through them, but make sure to thoroughly drain them afterwards).
Blend the lentils by colors! Pulse the red and green lentils until it’s a mushy mixture with some of the texture retained. Because of the nature of red lentils, they will process a lot smoother than their green counterparts, and that’s exactly what we want. Leave the black lentils alone! They are tiny and add texture and shape to the lentil batter.
Chop the onion and green chili and saute in a bit of oil until fragrant. Crush the garlic and add it as well.
Chop the walnuts and stir them in. Add the spices and parsley, then take off the heat and thoroughly mix with the lentils.
Make some tahini by whisking together raw tahini, lemon, and water. You want it to be quite thin (not watery, but liquidy enough to pour quickly over the pie you will shortly assemble).
If you want to get really fancy, slice the eggplant thinly and lightly fry in a frying pan.
Now for the fun part – assembly (not the language)!
By now the burgul should have cooled sufficiently. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt, and press firmly into the bottom of a lined or greased springform pan.
Scoop the spiced lentil mixture on top of the bulgur base and smooth the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes Place the slices of eggplant (if using) evenly over the top to create a layer.
Pour the tahini you made evenly over the top, and dot with the nuts of your choice.
Bake for 10-15 more minutes in the hot oven, or until the tahini starts crusting over.
Serve on a cake-stand if you’re feeling extra fancy!
* Lazy Girl Modifications:
Use all red lentils instead of three kinds. Instead of cooking it in a pot, place in a large microwavable bowl, cover with water and cook in the microwave in increments, adding water as necessary (start with 10 minutes, then decrease each time until soft and mushy).
- Pour 1/2 cup hot water over 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (groats) and let sit, covered until cool.
- When cool, mix with 1/2 tsp salt, 4 Tbs. whole wheat flour, and 4 Tbs. olive oil.
- Rinse and boil lentils separately until soft and mushy. If you’re a Lazy Girl, sub red lentils for the others and microwave them with water until soft.
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)
- Process or blend red lentils completely.
- Process or blend green lentils a bit, retaining some texture.
- Saute onion until golden. Add onion and spices.
- Add lentils to the pot and saute to mix flavors.
- Make some tahini sauce by whisking raw tahini, garlic, lemon and water.
- Press bulgur wheat into the bottom of a springform pan. Spoon the lentil mixture in and smooth the top and bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Optional: Fry some thin eggplant slices and place them on top of the lentil layer.
- Pour tahini over the top, sprinkle with nuts of choice and bake for 40 minutes or until the top dries up a bit.