Common thinking says that for Moussaka you need bechamel sauce right? Not according to Salma Hage’s ‘The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook’. The spices, aubergine and chickpeas give you everything you need for a tasty and hearty dish which is great for serving straight from the table to hungry mouths. Like many Middle Eastern dishes, this is best served at room temperature, which means you can make it ahead, or enjoy the following day when the favours have enhanced. I served it here with puy lentil tabbouleh (that’s Week 14’s recipe).
This recipe calls for a lebanese 7 spice mix (the recipe’s in the book), but I found a five spice mix in my local turkish supermarket and added what was missing (cloves and fenugreek).
The tomato sauce base for this is wonderfully rich and flavourful and could work in all sorts of other dishes which call for a tomato base.
Ingredients, serves 4: 2 large aubergines, 4 tbsp gluten free flour, 2 tsp Lebanese seasoning, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 x 400g cans of chickpeas drained, salt and pepper.
Tomato Sauce: 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 onion finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic chopped, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 bay leaf, 6 large tomatoes, finely chopped, 7 sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1 x tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp unsweetened pomegranate molasses, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F/200 degree C/gas mark 6
- Slice aubergines into 1cm disks. Mix flour, spices and pinch of S+P on plate.
- Dip each side of aubergine into flour mix to lightly coat
- Lay on a baking sheet (lined with greaseproof paper of foil – have learnt before that baking aubergines can stain sheets and tins)
- Drizzle over oil and bake in oven for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp. Leave to cool.
- Meanwhile make tomato sauce. Saute onion in oil for 2 minutes, add garlic and cook for 1 min, then add cumin and bay leaf and cook for another 1-2 minutes
- Add fresh chopped tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes before adding the sun dried tomatoes, puree, tinned tomatoes, 1/4 can of water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice
- Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce is thick and reduced.
- Turn off, set aside and remove bay leaf.
- Layer the aubergine, tomato sauce and chickpeas in a deep baking pan – ideally 3-4 layers – until all ingredients used. Finish with layer of tomato sauce.
- Bake in oven for 40 minutes, set aside to cool.
- Best served at room temperature with some turkish bread and a salad.