We never made moussaka in the 1970’s. It was an exotic dish only found in the Greek restaurants in Camden town or in tavernas on the Greek islands. Traditionally made from layers of aubergine, minced lamb with tomatoes and topped with a buttery white sauce thickened with egg and flavoured with cheese.
Aubergines and lamb mince were impossible to buy in the 1970s, and cinnamon was only used at Christmas time. Nowadays aubergines inexpensive and not bitter, so there is no need to salt them before cooking as shown in traditional recipes. I’ve sprinkled the aubergine slices with olive oil and baked them – this controls the amount of oil and saves the hazard of frying.
This recipe serves 4-6 which may seem like a lot. But when buying the minced lamb, it is often sold in 500g packs. Canned tomatoes are best value in 400g tins, so shopping is easier from the supermarket.
2 large aubergines cut across into 1 cm slices (aubergine weighs about 260 g)
4 tbs olive or vegetable oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped ( about 200 g )
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500 g minced lamb
1 heaped tbs plain flour (25 g)
400 g can chopped tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and black pepper
50 g butter
50 g plain flour
400 ml milk
salt and pepper
1 medium beaten egg
50 g Parmesan or strong cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Put the aubergine slices on a baking tray and sprinkle the slices with oil. Bake for 20 minutes until soft and slightly golden.
- Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and minced lamb and stir and fry for 10 minutes to cook the meat. Stir constantly to break up the meat pieces.
- Stir in the flour, tomatoes, cinnamon, oregano and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on the pan. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a paste. Gradually stir in the milk to make a thick sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and leave to cool.
- Layer the slices of aubergine on the base of an ovenproof dish and season with pepper.
- Pile the minced lamb mixture on top.
- Mix the beaten egg into the sauce and spoon the sauce on top of the lamb mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until thoroughly hot and golden on top.
- Serve with salad.
Skills – knife skills chopping vegetables, sauce making, layering, flavouring