I was convinced that traditional shepherd's pie featured on our 2015 roster of meals (the list that prompted my foray into food variety) and was surprised not to find it there. Thinking about it, I've probably avoided it in recent years as my son really doesn't like potatoes, but the humble shepherd's pie is a dish that hold bags of childhood food nostalgia for me.
Early on in January I made Nigella's Indian spiced take on shepherd's pie. It delivers a bowl of the necessary comfort needed in order to live up to the original, yet its spiced filing and sweet potato topping with lime and ginger juice divert significantly from the original to give it distinct individuality.
The same can be said for Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich's variation (although not derivation) on the classic British dish in their book Honey & Co. Their lamb siniya has the same component parts of the shepherd's pie, a lamb mince base with a topping baked in the oven yet its spicing and yogurt, tahini, egg and lemon juice topping is richer than mashed potato and leave it tasting nothing like the pie my mother would make.
The single complication in this dish was the requirement for baharat spice mix, which I made using the Honey & Co recipe. This in turn required 2 tsp of a sweet spice mix, so I had to make that too. After the roasting, cooling and grinding of seeds and then mixing with further ground spices I was finally ready to start cooking.
The lamb siniya itself was quick to make. I swapped out carrots for the cauliflower as they would lead to resistance at my table if included and I have learnt from experience that it's near on impossible to disguise cauliflower no matter how it's presented or the amount of spice mix employed. Other than the carrots, I followed the recipe carefully to excellent results.
Our lamb siniya was served with double podded broad beans lightly sautéd with za'atar.