This recipe for Sinia (or synia) was recommended by my friend Dana, who comes from Tel Aviv, Israel. She sent me a couple of recipe links and some notes about her recommended modifications. For example, she adds more vegetables than many of the recipes, including cauliflower and aubergine. The main flavours come from the spices, parsley, and a generous measure of tahini (sesame paste). Originally this dish is Arabic, but there are many variations existing in Israel as well. This particular recipe is a combination of a number of recipes, with Dana’s modifications. Personally, I love the extra vegetables as then it feels like a complete meal in one dish.
First of all, the ingredients are simple and can be found easily in London, and hopefully also where you live. Then you can basically cook everything on the stovetop in about 20 minutes. Next, the layering in the casserole dish is quick and simple, with only three layers. And lastly, you put everything in the oven for 20 minutes or so, and then it’s ready to serve. I washed up the dishes during that last 20 minutes. The flavours are delicate and blend well together- spices, parsley and sesame. If you wanted to make this vegetarian, I think you could probably just leave out the meat. The chunky vegetables make it feel quite substantial.
This dish reminded me of Israel because the food I tasted there nearly always had fresh herbs and often had tahini. Also, I normally don’t like cauliflower on its own but it tastes great added to the sinia. And it tastes incredible in the style of Eyal Shani. The method is to boil the whole cauliflower then roast it at high temperature with simply oil and salt. How can something so simple taste so delicious? Served with a side of tahini, and it’s even more irresistible.
500g ground beef
4 medium tomatoes, chopped into cubes
1/2 cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 aubergine, cut into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/3 tsp allspice
50 grams pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c fresh parsley chopped
1/2 c tahini
Pre-heat the oven to 170C
In a small saucepan, boil water and then parboil the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions, cauliflower pieces and aubergines. Next fry for 5 minutes until the onions are transparent. Add spices and mix well, cooking for 2 minutes. Then add the meat and cook until the meat is cooked through. Finally, add in the pine nuts and parsley, mix and cook for another 2 minutes.
Layer the meat mixture at the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with the tomato cubes. And lastly, drizzle with at least 1/2 cup of tahini.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the tahini starts to turn slightly brown. Serve hot!
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