Mousakka (Aubergine Casserole) much like lasagne is made by layering aubergine or potato slices with a mince sauce and topped with béchamel sauce. Its origins lie in the Middle Eastern, Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, each with their own variation to the dish. While Greek Mousakka uses aubergines in a three layer technique, the Serbian and Bulgarian versions of this dish often include sliced potatoes instead of eggplant. In some regions Mousakka is served cold as a mezze dish while contemporary versions outside the region of origin are often enjoyed warm ̶ perfect for cold winter days or gloomy summer ones.
Mousakka is a healthier low GI alternative to lasagna – suitable for diabetics and can also be adapted as low carb one - like this recipe which omits the use of flour from the béchamel sauce instead uses cream and egg for the topping. The mince sauce is a fragrant, lightly spiced sauce using herbs ̶ oregano and thyme and spices ̶ cinnamon and nutmeg. Curry lovers may be tempted to add a little a chilli ̶ but this overwhelms the overall taste of the dish. Similarly you can add red wine or stock to the mince sauce, I have opted for water instead.
Tips for Making Moussaka
- I recommend slicing the aubergine as thin as possible. Slice horizontal or in thin discs depending on the shape of your baking dish. Toast the aubergine in non stick pan this prevent the aubergine from turning soggy when baked.
- The tomatoes should be deseeded and grated. This forms a thick sauce.
- Layer the aubergine and mince then cover and set aside for 30 minutes prior to adding the top layer.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-6 persons
- 2 large aubergines
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 medium sized tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic grated or sliced
- 175 ml fresh cream
- 250ml water
- 2 eggs
2. Prepare the mince sauce. Heat a pan on medium heat. Add oil. If you are using a non stick pan add mince without oil. Fry the mice until slightly brown (same as when making mince curry).
3. Add sliced garlic, oregano, thyme and bay leaves. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Fry for 2 minutes. Add 250ml water. Cover and allow to simmer while you prepare the tomatoes.
4. Place the tomatoes in hot water then remove the skin. Slice and remove the seeds then grate. (see how to images in Chutney recipe).
5. Add the grated tomatoes to the mince. Don’t add additional water. Cook for 15 minutes then remove from stove.
6. Prepare the topping. Combine eggs and cream. Add bay leaves, a sprinkle of nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
7. Prepare a baking dish. Brush with oil. Layer the aubergines until the surface of the dish is covered. Add a layer of mince. Repeat the process until the aubgerines have been placed in the baking dish. End with a layer of mince then top with the cream mixture.
8. Place in the oven. Bake for 60 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Cover the baking dish for the first 30 minutes of baking. Poke holes in the aluminum foil to allow the steam to escape. The top layer should be a slightly browned. Remove from oven.
9. Serve warm with salad.