We are not big on red meat at home. I mean we love it to bits, but just avoid eating it more than a few times a year. But every time we eat it, we make it count. More often than not, its mutton curry or keema curry, all ready to be mopped up with heaps of fresh hot chapatis. This time I went with another version…. a Greek Moussaka. And how happily did this get polished off !!
Moussaka is a classic Greek dish. It may take a little time to put together but its easy and so very deliciously rewarding. It makes for a cozy comforting sort of meal with layers of tender, spicy meat, soft grilled eggplant melding together with a bechamel sauce.
This is a great “make-ahead” dish. You can make the sauces a day in advance and just assemble everything the day of. Put together a quick little salad, some bread perhaps and that’s all you need with this melt-in-your-mouth dish that will make your heart and belly smile!
I have deviated from the traditional recipe to lighten it up a bit. It seems improbable, doesn’t it? But this is how it happened:
– I used lean meat. I always pick the meat pieces and get them trimmed before getting them minced.
– Eggplant slices were grilled not shallow fried as they were supposed to be. You could even roast them.
– Bechamel sauce or the white sauce was made with olive oil and low-fat milk as opposed to butter and whole milk. For this recipe, eggs were to be added to the cooled sauce, I skipped that as well.
– I used cheese responsibly! There’s just enough for rounding up the flavors.
– I didn’t skimp on the seasoning, be it garlic, chili flakes, herbs…do use fresh herbs if available. Well seasoned sauces make for a fabulous dish.
I’d love to hear about your favorite meat dishes!!
Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over the eggplant slices and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse, squeeze out extra water and pat dry.
Brush the eggplant slices with a little olive oil and grill them. Keep aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion. Stir in the oregano, chilli flakes, basil and the cinnamon stick. Saute for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the mince meat, stirring it and breaking it up with a spoon until browned. Mix in the tomato puree, tomato sauce and season with salt. Cover and cook the meat sauce on low heat for about 30 minutes or until all the water has evaporated and you have thick sauce. Taste and adjust for salt.
Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom pan ( I use my kadai ) over medium heat. Add flour and the seasonings. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Lower the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly till the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Mix in the cheese.
Pre heat oven to 180 C.
Lightly grease a baking dish. Cover the base of the dish with the grilled eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly. Spread a third of the meat sauce on top. Cover this with a thin layer of the white sauce. Repeat these layers, then cover with a layer of eggplant slices. Pour the remaining white sauce on top and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.