If you do not know mousakas, it is time to learn some facts. It is one of the many greek traditional foods and is served in numerous restaurants and taverns in Greece. Basically, there is no menu without mousaka inside. But it is hard to make, because the preparation takes a lot of time. So, you should be ready to face any difficulty as long as you make a progress with the recipe. Moreover, Ι am here with you to make your life easier. Ι will give you two simple recipes for this meal. The first one will be for the classic mousaka and the second one will involve the vegetarian version. For those who do not like meat, do not worry!
History of Mousakas
What is Mousakas
Firstly, it is a roast which includes meat and eggplant. The second main ingredient must be fried and cooked with tomato sauce. Also, there are many alterations, where you can add some vegetables, for example potatoes. The chefs use minced meat and it must have the shape of dice.
As far as we know, mousaka came from Ottoman Cuisine and the Arabs contributed with the addition of eggplant. Then, it became the main ingredient. In the 13th century, the dish was mentioned in a medieval Αrabic cookbook “A Banghdad Cookery Book”. The mousaka has acquired popularity over the years, due to the references of an Ottoman poet Ibrahim Tirsi in the 18th century. The origin of its modern name was held by Mehmet Kamil in 1844, who had the chance to translate it into English. Also, he managed to present it to the “Turkish Cookery Book” in 1862.
Since the Ottoman reign ended, the Greeks wanted to dispose of the Turkish influence and came up with the idea of their version. Subsequently, they inserted a thick layer of white sauce with the name “bechamel”, which corresponds to a more western impact. Nevertheless, it was not something new. There had been some references in a cookbook from the 13th century. The dish was “buraniyya” or “al-jami’a” and the cooks garnished it with a thickened sauce, which resembles the Greek variation.
Some experts declare the implementation of that dish to the English Language in 1862 as “Muzakka” from the Arabic word (musaqqa’a). It is translated as fluid food. They suggest that it means cool, while other believe that means flat.
Easy Recipe for Traditional Mousakas
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 onion thinly cut
- 1/2 kg minced beef
- 4 tbsp of white wine
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 5 potatoes chopped into small pieces
- 4 washed and chopped eggplants
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 8 tbsp of flour
- 4 1/2 cups of milk
- 2 egg yolks
- Last but not least salt, pepper and nutmeg
I will explain to you step by step:
- Firstly, boil the olive oil.
- Secondly, fry the onion and meat for about 4 minutes and then add the wine.
- Thirdly, simmer the tomatoes with salt and pepper for 30 minutes (low heat).
- Put the potatoes in the oven and pour salt.
- Bake the potatoes till they are soft.
- Put oil in the base of a 20 cm baking pan and line it with the potatoes. Then cover the top with the minced meat and the aubergines.
- Distribute the bechamel on the top of eggplants
- Finally, bake the moussaka at 180°C (40-45 minutes)
How to make the Bechamel
- In low heat, melt the butter and stir with flour constantly in order to avoid clumping.
- When the mixture is blended, insert the milk and stir. ( Tip: Increase the heat)
- Once the bechamel becomes thick, extract the saucepan from the heat.
- In a bowl, mix milk and egg yolks.
For the Mousakas
- 4 big eggplants
- 5 big pumpkins
- 4 boiled or fried potatoes
- 2 tomatoes
- 10 big white mushrooms or 6 portobellos
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Salt, pepper and a little garlic oil
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
For the yoghurt bechamel
- 4 tbsp of butter
- 4 tbsp of flour
- 1 lt hot milk
- 1 cup of yoghurt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup of feta cheese flakes
- 2-3 pinches of nutmeg, salt and pepper
For the vegetables
- Firstly, cut the eggplants and pumpkins into small pieces (0.5 cm thick).
- Secondly, put the vegetables in a baking tray.
- Pour olive oil and salt and then bake them at 220°C (15 minutes) (Note: The oven should be preheated).
- Chop the white mushrooms.
- Fry the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
You follow the previous procedure for the beschamel, except for the addition of cheese and yoghurt.
- Spread some breadcrumbs in a greased baking pan.
- Lay the vegetables, potatoes, eggplants and pumpkins alternating with grated cheese.
- Put the mushrooms in one layer.
- Next, top with tomato pieces.
- Cover the moussaka with the beschamel.
- Then, drizzle with the rest of the cheese.
- In the end, bake in the oven at 180°C (35-40 m.)
In conclusion, these are two easy recipes for moussaka. You should be aware that the process needs a lot of time and attention. In case you are wondering about the results, you are about to be amazed by the taste and certainly the smell of the meal. Besides It is one of the most favourite dishes of the Greek people. Generally, they tend to eat them with their family. Lastly, the traditional mousakas (with meat) and the vegetarian mousakas are the most ideal foods for a night at a greek restaurant!
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