The name moussaka comes from the Arabic مسقعة (musaqqaʿa). This name is used in Greek cuisine (μουσακάς), Turkish (musakka) and the South Slavic languages (musaka/мусака). Made from aubergines, or eggplants, other languages simply call it ‘eggplant casserole’. For example, Hungarian rakott padlizsá. It makes a good winter supper to warm your heart. This is the way I make mine…
Boil some brown (continental) lentils in water until they are soft. While they are cooking, fry a chopped onion with some garlic in olive oil until it starts to colour. Add a chopped large beef tomato and/or some tinned toms. Add a spoon of tomato purée and a big sprinkle of mixed herbs (oregano, basil, marjoram…). Add a glug of red wine if you want… one in the pot too! Leave the tomato sauce to simmer on a low heat.
Now make the Béchamel or white sauce to top the moussaka. First make a roux by melting some veggie margarine in a small pan and stir in some plain flour. Stir for a couple of minutes to prevent sticking. Then add small sploshes of soya milk bit by bit, stiring all the time, until you have a smooth sauce. Add a large teaspoon of veg bouillon, freshly ground black pepper and some nutritional yeast (optional). Then strain the lentils and combine with the tomato sauce. Add a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint – this lifts the whole dish!
Next prepare the aubergines. Slice 2-3 aubergines thinly lengthwise. Heat a griddle and brush with olive oil. Place your aubergine slices on the hot griddle and cook on both sides until nicely cooked.
To assemble the moussaka, spoon half of the lentil and tomato sauce into a baking dish. Cover with a layer of cooked aubergine (use half of the aubergines to do this). Then add another layer of sauce, another layer of aubergine and top with the white sauce. You can add thin slices of cooked potato if you want a more substantial dish or if you don’t have enough aubergines. Bake for 25 mins at 180°C. Serve with a rocket, spinach, tomato and red onion salad. Yum!