Batata Souffle or batata bil sanieh is a classic Lebanese Shepherd’s pie, with creamy mashed potatoes and spiced minced beef. It’s really easy to make, and such a comfort dish, both filling and delicious.
What is batata?
Batata is the Arabic word for potato. It translates to sweet potatoes in other languages, but in the Middle East it refers to regular potatoes. Batata Hilwa is what we call sweet potato.
What is batata souffle?
Batata souffle basically translates to whipped potato, a play off the mashed potatoes that are so central to this dish. Lebanese potato souffle is a dish commonly eaten in the Middle East, especially Lebanon.
This is like a Lebanese Shepherd’s pie, with a layer of mashed potato topped with ground beef, and topped with another layer of mashed potatoes plus buttery breadcrumbs.
What’s so good about this meal?
Lebanese mashed potatoes with meat is a really simple meal to throw together. You basically make mashed potatoes, cook some ground beef with onion, garlic, and a bit of spices, and layer in a baking dish.
This would work great with leftover cooked ground beef or mashed potatoes.
A very versatile dish, batata souffle is typically made without any extra veggies but feel free to add peas, diced carrots, corn, or even layer in some cheese.
This is a very kid friendly as well as adult friendly dish, pure comfort as are so many other dishes with potatoes!
Ingredients you need for batata souffle:
You have three different components in this, the mashed potatoes, the ground beef, and the topping:
The mashed potatoes: Potatoes, butter, milk, salt and pepper. The classic ingredients for super simple no frills mashed potatoes.
The meat: Olive oil, onion, garlic, seven spices or all spice, salt and pepper, and of course ground beef. I prefer using lean ground beef, but use whatever you prefer. You can use ground lamb if that’s something you prefer to do.
For the topping: For a delicious crisp texture, I like using some breadcrumbs (I prefer panko for extra crunch), and melted butter to toss the breadcrumbs with to make sure they turn golden brown in the oven.
How to make batata souffle:
- Make the mashed potatoes: Boil the cubes until tender, then mash and mix with milk, butter, salt and pepper.
- Cook the meat: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then soften the onion and garlic. Add the ground beef and cook. Optionally, drain the extra fat which I tend to do, then add in all the spices and continue cooking until brown and totally cooked through.
- Make the breadcrumb topping: Mix together the melted butter and breadcrumbs, tossing well to combine.
- Assemble and bake: Spread half the mashed potatoes into a pan, I prefer using a pyrex pan. Top with all the beef, then the remaining half of the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
- Enjoy! This is good hot or room temperature.
What to serve Batata with:
A simple green salad is my side of choice. This is really good with some hot sauce or ketchup too, and maybe some olives on the side.
Storing leftover Lebanese potato souffle:
Leftover batata souffle will keep tightly covered in the fridge for 3-5 days.
It can also be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months.
Tips and tricks for Lebanese shepherd’s pie success:
- Make sure you mash the potatoes well so they are creamy and not lumpy.
- Cook the beef until totally cooked through, it’s just going to warm in the oven and not cook any further.
- Bake until golden brown to achieve that lovely crisp texture on the top that’ll give way to the creamy mashed potatoes.
- Keep tasting throughout, you want to make sure the potatoes are seasoned well and the meat is seasoned well so that the dish isn’t bland.
The recipe itself is gluten free with the exception of the breadcrumbs. If you use gluten free breadcrumbs, or omit them entirely, then you’re good to go!
You can if you use your favorite vegan meat substitute! To make this vegan, you’d also need to substitute the butter in the recipe for vegan butter, and the milk in the mashed potatoes for Dplant based milk.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
For the mashed potatoes
- 7-8 potatoes 2 lb or 1 kg
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
For the meat:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced finely
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lb lean ground beef 500g
- 1 heaped teaspoon seven spices or all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or plain bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).
For the mashed potatoes:
- Peel potatoes and dice into large cubes. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil partially covered for 20-25 min or until potatoes are tender when you poke them with a fork.
- Drain the potatoes, then return to the pot they were cooking in. Use a potato masher to mash them well, then add the butter, milk, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
For the meat:
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring continuously.
- Add the minced beef, and cook until brown. Drain any extra fat (optional) then add the seven or all spice, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Continue cooking a good 6-8 minutes until totally brown. Break up any large clumps of meat with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for a minute, breaking apart any clumps of meat with a wooden spoon, then add all the spices (seven spice or all spice, cinnamon, salt and black pepper).
- Continue cooking, a good 6-8 minutes until meat is all cooked through and brown. Set aside.
- Spread half of the mashed potatoes onto the base of a 9×13 inch pyrex pan. Evenly spread all the ground beef, then gently dollop the remaining half of the mashed potatoes on top, being careful to spread them out evenly. You just want to be gentle to avoid getting the meat mixed in with the mashed potatoes so that you end up with 3 distinct layers.
- Mix together the melted butter and breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on top of the second layer of potatoes. Bake uncovered at 375 F (190C) for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.