Siniyet Batata

This casserole dish originates from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine and is similar to a shepard's pie. Its name translates to "tray of potatoes." This dish traditionally contains meat, which I substituted here for lentils. Enjoy.

Serves 4-6

What you need:

1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp margarine or olive oil

for the potato layer
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups plain soy milk
3 tbsp margarine or olive oil
1 tsp salt

for the rice layer
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1.5 cups dry lentils
1.5 cups dry white rice
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Lightly grease a large casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of bread crumbs at the bottom of the casserole dish. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes on medium heat and drain with a colander.

While the potatoes are boiling, start making the rice. Place the pine nuts in the oven for 5 minutes to roast them. In a large pan on medium heat, sauté the chopped onion in the 4 tbsp olive oil for 15 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the dry lentils and rice and mix in well. Add the 6 cups vegetable broth and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the roasted pine nuts and remove from heat. Taste the rice to make sure it is cooked. If not, add more broth if necessary and cook longer.

When the potatoes have finished, drain and mix in with soy milk, salt, and margarine. Spread half of the mashed potatoes on top of the bread crumbs in the casserole dish. Then add all of the rice. Spread the rest of the mashed potatoes on top of the rice. Spread the 2 tbsp margarine or olive oil onto the potatoes. Then sprinkle the parsley and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

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