Greek Moussaka

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
4 large aubergine
Meat Sauce
500 g minced beef
2 pcs onion peeled roughly chopped
3 pcs garlic cloves finely chopped
50 ml red wine
2 tablespoons Tomato puree
400 g tomatoes tinned and chopped
3 pcs Bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Bechamel Sauce
500 ml Milk
50 g Plain Flour
50 g Butter
2 pcs Bay leaves
a pinch Black pepper
a pinch ground nutmeg

Greek Moussaka

Moussaka is, without a doubt, synonymous with traditional Greek cuisine. It is hard to imagine a gastronomic guide to Greece which doesn’t mention moussaka.

  • 100
  • Serves 8
  • Medium

Ingredients

  • Meat Sauce

  • Bechamel Sauce

Directions

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Moussaka is, without a doubt, synonymous with traditional Greek cuisine. It is hard to imagine a gastronomic guide to Greece which doesn’t mention moussaka.

Greek moussaka is an oven-baked, multi-layer casserole made of sautéed aubergines, minced meat and Bechamel sauce. The traditional Greek recipe was created in the 1920s by Nikólaos Tselementés. He is probably the most prominent Greek chef and food writer. Today, he is a household name across Greece for his cookbooks and skill in the kitchen.

At that time, influenced by Western trends and political circumstances, Tselementés wanted to distance Greek cuisine from that of Turkey. For this reason, he created a moussaka which consists of several layers and he also added Bechamel sauce. Tselementés is also credited with introducing whipped cream, jelly recipes, canapés and the food decoration techniques into Greek cuisine.

Let’s just mention that there is a significant difference between the Turkish and Greek versions of this dish. Namely, the Turkish version is not layered and baked and looks like stew made of equal parts auberigine, tomato, onions and minced meat, and is usually served with the Turkish version of pilaf.

Moussaka Origin

The origin of the moussaka has not been thoroughly documented. However, it is widely accepted that the moussaka originates in the Arabian Peninsula. Specifically, in A Baghdad Cookery Book (Kitaab Al-Tabikh) from the 13th century, there is a recipe for a very similar dish called musakhkhan. It is likely that the name moussaka is derived from the Arabic word ‘musaqqa’ which literally translates to ‘something that is fed liquid’. Even today, it is a popular dish in Egypt and in the Levant countries, where it is made as a vegetarian dish.

With the Ottoman conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, moussaka made its way to Turkey, and hence spread throughout the empire. A writer by the name of Turabi Efendi published a 1862 book called The Turkish Cookery Book, where he mentioned moussaka innhold. It’s believed that this is how moussaka came to Greece.

We must mention that moussaka is a very popular dish in the cuisines of Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. In these cuisines, instead of aubergine and minced beef or lamb, potatoes and minced pork are usually used.

I got this recipe for Greek Moussaka from a local lady when I was in Thessaloniki a few years ago.

Steps

1
Done

Wash the aubergines, peel off the crust if you’d prefer and cut into slices of 3-4 mm thickness. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 15 minutes for the salt to draw out the water, then dry with paper towels. Place the aubergines on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

2
Done
40

Meat Sauce

Fry onion in olive oil for 10 minutes and add the meat. After another 10 minutes, add tomato, spices and wine. Simmer until all liquid has evaporated to form a thick sauce.

3
Done
10

Bechamel Sauce

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Slowly add the flour until a paste is created, then add heated milk gradually and stir to prevent the lumps from forming. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves.

4
Done

Coat the bottom of an oven dish with olive oil, then layer 2/3 of the eggplant. On top of this add the minced meat, the rest of the eggplant and bechamel sauce on the top. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

5
Done

Leave it to cool for 30-60 minutes, as it tastes best when it hardens slightly. Red wine goes well with moussaka.

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