Food Glorious Food – Moussaka bil Tahini

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So, I love food. I love to cook and feed people.

This is my first recipe outing on this blog. I love exploring different cultures and different cuisines. 

After reading an excerpt from a book called Comptoir Libanais by Tony Kitous. My mouth was watering at this one recipe in particular, Moussaka. This is Lebanese version (moussaka bil tahini) without the bechamel sauce and served with a delicious tahini and za’atar dip instead. The recipe here is the one that I’ve copied from the book and calls for salting the aubergines. I don’t always bother. Taste a piece of the vegetable first, if you find it bitter and it’s verging on being soft then by all means salt until your heart’s content. If you’ve picked up fairly fresh, young ones then the salting isn’t necessary.

I’d recommend serving with flatbreads and a green salad.

  • aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
  • large onion, finely chopped
  • garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 6 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tahini dressing:

  • 125g yoghurt
  • 40g tahini
  • Couple of pinches of za’atar
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Take one aubergine and chop into bite-size cubes, lay on a plate and cover with salt. Set aside for 15 minutes to draw out all the bitter juices. Slice the other aubergine into rounds then salt and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for around 10-15 minutes until it’s starting to soften and caramelise.

Rinse the cubed aubergine and add to the pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes until the cubes have softened and turned golden.

Stir in the garlic and cook in the heat of the pan for a couple of minutes until you can smell the aroma. Pour in the tomatoes, and tomato puree and bring everything to a simmer. Cover and cook on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.

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Rinse the salt from the remaining aubergine. Preheat the grill and oil a baking sheet. Brush the aubergine slices liberally with oil and grill until golden, turning halfway through. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas 6. (I griddled them)

Place a layer of the aubergine sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then cover this with the sliced tomatoes, chickpeas and finally the grilled aubergine. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top. To make the dressing, stir together the yoghurt, tahini and za’atar to taste. Scatter the chopped parsley over the moussaka and serve with the tahini dressing.

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This dish pops up in several countries (Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Serbia) with their own distinctive take on it. Do you have a favourite?

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