Lebanese Moussaka

Lebanese moussaka

Lebanese moussaka

There are lots of variations of moussaka from the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. Some versions contain meat (usually some kind of mince, in fact) but this classic Lebanese moussaka is meat-free by default so it is ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

You could easily pimp up this recipe with extra layers of sliced vegetables. Courgettes, potatoes and sliced mushrooms would all work well, as would a layer of lentils instead of the traditional mince.

Serve it with warm pitta breads, hummus, falafels and a salad of tomato and shredded lettuce. Lovely!

 

Ingredients:
  • 2 aubergines, sliced into rounds, approx 2-3mm (1/8″) thick
  • 1 large white onion (or 2 small ones), chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Half a tin of chickpeas
  • Heaped teaspoon of za’atar if you’ve got it. If not, use 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and a 1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs (especially thyme and oregano)
  • Large handful of parsley
  • Large handful of coriander
  • Fresh tomatoes, sliced, for decorating the top of the moussaka

 

Method:
  1. Fry the aubergine slices in a little olive oil until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and put to one side.
  2. Put all the rest of the ingredients in a large pan and cook! Start with the onion and garlic, then add the peppers. Cook them all for 5-10 minutes until the onions and peppers have softened. Add the tin of tomatoes, the chickpeas and the herbs and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. You’ll need a casserole dish approx 8″ x 8″ or similar sized.  Put a layer of aubergine slices in the bottom of the dish. Carefully pour in all the pepper/onion/tomato mixture and cover it with another layer of aubergines. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes, season with a little salt and pepper, and give it a little drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

 

Notes:
I learned this recipe on a Lebanese cooking course at the excellent Bakchich Lebanese street food restaurant (their website) in Manchester. It’s exactly the same as they make in the restaurant and it’s seriously good.

 

They also reckon it’s even better if you make and assemble it the day before (ie everything up to the final cooking stage) as the extra time allows the flavours to develop. Then you can just heat up the ready-prepared dish and serve it straight to the table.

 

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