There are several versions of Musakka, featuring our beloved eggplant, patlican, in Turkey. For example in Aegean region we would exclude the béchamel sauce. In some other regions, potatoes, courgettes (zucchini) maybe added on. This is a dish we share with our Greek friends too, and I like mine with a nice creamy béchamel sauce, similar to the Greek version. The joy of this special dish is that you can prepare in advance and give a gentle reheat before serving – and you get to enjoy your company. Once cooked, mousakka freezes successfully too.
This recipe is an adaptation from Ghille Basan’s recipe, one of my favourite cookery authors. And I would like to dedicate this recipe to Eleni and Babis, for many happy years to spend and enjoy good food together 🙂
Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 30 – 40 minutes Cooking time: About 1 hour
4 medium aubergines (eggplants), cut lengthways and sliced crossed ways
Olive oil or sunflower oil for shallow frying
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500gr/1 ¼ lb ground (minced) lamb
400gr/14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
15 ml/ 1 tbsp tomato paste
10 ml/2 tsp oregano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
For the béchamel sauce:
2 eggs, beaten
450 ml/2 cups milk
25 ml/1 ½ tbsp butter
45 ml/3tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
225gr/ 8oz grated mozzarella
2.5ml/1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat to oven to 200 C/400 F/ Gas 6
Sprinkle salt over the sliced aubergines and leave for about 15-20 minutes. Drain the excess water in aubergines and squeeze dry with paper towel.
Heat some olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the aubergine slices in batches until light golden (you will need to top up the oil during cooking, as the aubergines absorb it). Drain them on paper towel.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan. Stir the onions and garlic and cook until transparent. Add the ground lamb and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, cook for another 2 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper, mix well.
Layer the aubergines and the ground meat in an ovenproof dish, starting with a layer of aubergines. You can prepare up to this stage a day in advance or ahead of time.
For the sauce; melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken.
Beat in the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Stir 30 ml/ 2 tbsp of the hot sauce into the beaten eggs and then pour them into the pan. Add half of the shredded mozzarella cheese and stir, until the sauce is smooth.
Pour the sauce over the top layer of aubergines and sprinkle the remaining cheese over evenly. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top of the mousakka is nicely browned. You can serve mousakka with salad and plain rice.