Sinaia: Meat and Tahini Casserole

palestinian meat sinaiaFor the second week, I am getting through without smoking.

Memories from the last time I tried this made me believe that the task will be more difficult this time. On the one hand it’s encouraging, but then I think to myself that it really is not that complicated. What is the urgency in quitting? Why not smoke again?

Luckily I can transfer these lecherous thoughts to the kitchen.  Today I am thinking about a traditional Middle Eastern dish of seasoned ground meat baked with tahini sauce. Before we begin I should make one thing clear: Sinaia is entirely about the quality of the meat and the grinding. There is no choice but to grind it at home. I asked my wife if she would be able to stop by the best butcher we know to buy some meat.


For the meat mixture:

  • 1/2 pound of beef (rib eye steak is best) or lamb (shanks), finely ground
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Baharat (mix 1 teaspoon each of dry mint, oregano, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and nutmeg)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2  cup pine nuts or chopped almonds
  • 1 cup minced parsley
  1. Finely chop the onion, chili pepper, and garlic. Fry  in some olive oil until slightly golden.
  2. Place the ground meat in a bowl.  Add the sauteed onion, chili pepper, and garlic. Season with chili, cinnamon, Baharat, and salt.
  3. Add the fresh parsley and pine nuts or chopped almonds and mix.
  4. Spread the meat mixture in an oven-safe casserole.
  5. Place the casserole in a hot (500 degree Fahrenheit) oven for about twenty minutes.

For the tahini mixture:

  • 1 cup raw tahini paste
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup water
  1. Mix the tahini paste with the juice of one lemon, and minced garlic. Add the water slowly until it reaches the desired consistency.
  2. Remove the casserole from the oven. Pour the tahini over the meat and return to the oven for another fifteen minutes.
  3. Serve hot with chopped Israel salad, hummus,  and fresh, warm pita bread.


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