From Latkes of the Jewish cuisine, to the Greek’s Moussaka!
I chopped-and-changed a number of things that were spelled out in the ingredients and especially the method, so please refer to the original recipe should you wish to attempt the one in the book.
Moussaka essentially is a layered meal, with brinjal at the bottom, toppled mince thereafter and then the thickish sauce poured over and rounded up with sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs to complete the layered dish. I instead melded the veggies into the mince, so that there would be no resistance from separating veg from meat in our home once we tucked in ;)
My version went like this:– Top and tail washed brinjal/aubergine/eggplant (I used 3 baby sized ones) and slice into half-inch cuts. Sprinkle with coarse salt and set aside for a short while (half an hour). I’m not sure what’s the purpose of this, but did so at the time… – In the meanwhile, add washed mince (I used steak mince, 250g) + half an onion, sliced + some ghee/oil to a pot and set to heat and braise until cooked and dry(ish). – Have ready to add: 1-2 cups of pulverized fresh tomatoes (I love a moist mince curry) + just under a 1/4 cup tomato puree (especially for colour) + few squirts of lemon juice + salt + white pepper + wet red masala + dhana powder. Allow to simmer until well combined, rightly textured and still quite moist. You then have your mince component ready.. – While the mince is simmering to completion, saute the sliced brinjal in some olive oil (I cut them further into inconspicuous wedges so that carnivorous-Better Half would still enjoy the meal ;) ) and also added in some sliced green pepper. Saute until cooked but not entirely softened. Drain well and stir into mince. (The recipe suggests layering the brinjal – I instead tossed the veggies into the mince mixture so that Better Half wouldn’t fuss about the brinjal, and also the way I sliced and prepared it made it easy to cross-over to brinjals for one’s first-try as opposed to hitting the eyes and palette with thick brinjal cuts layered in between a hearty mince meal) – I then prepared a basic white sauce: braised flour with ghee and then added in milk and seasoning (basic salt, black pepper and some dried thyme, or any mixed herbs you might have). I was looking to achieve a runny white sauce as the beaten egg was still going to be added in to the meal and a compact mousakka wasn’t what I wanted to land up with, even though all servings of mousakka are usually solid and firmly shaped as a slice serving… – I then spooned the mince mixture (with the tossed, sauted veggies in it already) into a pyrex dish, then stirred in the white sauce and then lastly combined the single, lightly beaten egg into the entire mixture. Set it aside in the fridge and hauled it out closer to dinner time for baking and serving (so yes, can be prepared ahead of time). – I omitted grated cheese to cover the meal, but instead used a lot of very finely, blended bread crumbs. Baked it at 180C until the sauciness reduced a bit and the dish could be dished out as a less-than-wonky slice serving.
Verdict: So I mentioned in an earlier post that I have developed a sense of knowing, before even tasting the meal, whether a new dish will be a win or fail. This was most definitely a win long before I tasted it. What-a-win! Better Half gave a literal thumbs-up and we both were impressed (and relieved!) that he enjoyed the veggie component without a fuss. I will definitely be making this meal again. As I told Better Half, think of it as lasagne without the pasta sheets! ;) The breadcrumb finish was a definite win for both of us too