19 August 2010

Moussaka

moussaka

My mother used to make a version of moussaka out of Craig Claiborne's "New York Times International Cookbook," a book she loved dearly. It was a towering affair, filled with lamb and eggplant and tomatoes and topped with a thick bechamel sauce. When my mother made it, it always came out looking a bit like the tower of Pisa, and you wondered which slice would finally send the concoction sliding off, meat in one direction, eggplant in another.

Years later, I discovered that there was a Lebanese version of moussaka, also with eggplant, but very different in composition. Here moussaka, from مسقعة‎ or "chilled," is a simple vegetarian stew of eggplant, tomatoes and chickpeas. Despite the name, it can be served hot or cold, and falls into the category of many Levantine vegetarian dishes often eaten during times of fasting or abstinence, such as Lent.

I can't remember where I learned to make it the way I do, leaving few eggplants whole, and arranging them artfully for presentation, but I like the way it looks. This dish works best if you can find small and slender eggplants.

moussaka

Moussaka

6 small slender Japenese-style egpplants, or 3 larger eggplants, halved
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups diced tomatoes, preferably fresh but canned is okay
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
olive oil
salt
chopped parsley for serving

1. Peel the eggplants in alternating strips, leaving strips of the black flesh. Trim the tops and bottoms of the eggplants.
2. Choose a large wide skillet, a 9 inch cast iron or ceramic pan is great. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in the skillet. Add the eggplants to the skillet and cook over medium heat until browned in spots, but not cooked through. Work in batches if necessary. Remove to a paper towel to drain.
3. Take 2 of the eggplants (or eggplant halves) and dice.
4. Add more olive oil to the skillet, there should be about a 1/4 cup of olive oil to the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and let cook down for about 10 minutes.
5. Stir in the chickpeas and the diced eggplant. Nestle the 4 whole eggplants in the skillet and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 25 minutes, flipping the eggplants once halfway through.
6. Test the eggplants for doneness, and add more water if the tomatoes get dry. The dish is done when the eggplant is tender. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

8 comments:

sohdalex said...

This looks delicious! Big fan of egg plant ;)

mawazee said...

Hello!
I had to comment and tell u i'm loving your blog! I'm from the U.A.E. and find making Middle eastern food a bit intimidating since nobody keeps recipes and measured ingredients so I'm finding ur blog a delight!
I'm planning to make a few of ur recipes soon!inshala they go well!

deepa said...

Good. Keep it up. From http://www.deccansojourn.com

Jessica said...

Beautiful presentation. I love eggplants, but I've never seen the small slender ones. Hope I can find them at my grocers, because I would love to make mine similar to this one. Thanks for sharing!

jessyburke88@gmail.com

lynn2mary said...

I changed your recipe abit, since I had one large eggplant that needed using. I sliced it and sauted it. Then I sauted the onions, tomatoes, and chickpeas. I arranged the eggplant slices in a casserole and poured the sauce over it. Then I baked it for 25 minutes. It won't be as nice a presentation, but it's one way to use larger eggplant.

Nadine said...

actually this version of Moussaka is called "maghmour" in Lebanon...it is delicious !

Umm said...

So delicious. I used two types of eggplant to try out the Chinese labeled eggplant I bought for the first time. It is long and light purple so I am not sure it is the same as Japenese-style. I also used the regular fat dark ones (liked them better in this) I used a good canned tomatoes, sea salt, plus the rest of the ingredients. Served over buttered basmati rice with thick yogurt for a good vegetarian meal.

Umm said...

So delicious. I used two types of eggplant to try out the Chinese labeled eggplant I bought for the first time. It is long and light purple so I am not sure it is the same as Japenese-style. I also used the regular fat dark ones (liked them better in this) I used a good canned tomatoes, sea salt, plus the rest of the ingredients. Served over buttered basmati rice with thick yogurt for a good vegetarian meal.