Illustration: Beatrice Toreborg
Mousaka - 4/11 Recipes from All over the World
By: Georgina Laskari
21st of April 2022
So many of our traditions and habits circulate around sharing a meal with others, which can be a strong catalyst for bonding with each other.
Since living in Malmö, which is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I came up with the idea to ask my friends what their favourite recipe is from their home country. This results in an amazing selection of traditional recipes from ALL around the world. Today’s recipe comes from Greece. I grew up there and it is my favourite dish. I highly recommend it!
vegetable oil (for frying)
- 900ml milk (31 fl.oz)
- 120g butter (4 oz)
- 120g flour (4 oz)
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri or your favourite hard cheese (3.5oz)
- salt to taste
- 750g beef or lamb mince (26 oz)
- 2 red onions (chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 glass of red wine
- Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- A pinch of cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
- 1/4 of a cup olive oil
- Begin by preparing the eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour. Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely coloured. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. (For a lighter version try drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes, instead of frying them). Set aside when done.
- Slice the potatoes into 0.5cm, half a finger width slices. Fry them or bake them in the same way as the eggplants. Season with some salt and set them aside when done.
- Prepare the meat sauce. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly coloured. Stir in the minced meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. When it starts to brown, add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté until the garlic starts to soften. Pour in the red wine to deglaze the meat juices and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, the sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until most of the juices have evaporated. Set aside when done.
- Prepare the béchamel sauce for the moussaka. Use a large pan to melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour, whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Its consistency should resemble a thick cream. Remove the béchamel pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the most of the grated cheese. Reserve some cheese to sprinkle on top. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette! Season with salt to taste.
- Now it’s time to assemble the moussaka. For this moussaka recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 20x30cm / 8x12inch and 8cm/3 inch deep). Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and layer the potatoes first (if you’re using them), then half the eggplants. Pour in all of the meat sauce and spread it out evenly. Add a second layer of eggplants, top with all of the béchamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
- Preheat you oven at 180C/350F and bake your mousaka for about 60 minutes or until its crust turns light golden brown. You should wait for the moussaka to cool down a bit, before cutting into pieces. This will prevent the béchamel sauce from pouring out when you’re cutting your pieces.