Moussaka & Cacık – Tricky to Speak, Tasty to Eat

I am an eggplant convert, from a hater to a lover.  But apart from the Baingan ka Bhurta (mashed eggplant), Bharwan Baingan (stuffed eggplant) and Aloo Baigan Sabji (potato & eggplant stir-fry) in Indian cuisine, the only other dish I have had most number of times is Eggplant Parmesan in Italian cuisine.

While looking for some more eggplant recipes for variety, I came across “Moussaka”.  What I loved more about it was how I pronounced the name when I told my husband what the menu for dinner was :P

Spusht | Moussaka and Cacik from Mediterranean Cuisine
Moussaka and Cacik - Mediterranean Cuisine
Moussaka, meaning ‘chilled’ in Arabic, is simply put an ‘eggplant casserole’ but with different versions along the Middle East and Mediterranean cuisine.  Some make it with meat, some top it with ‘béchamel’ sauce, and while some regions make it layered and bake, some sauté the ingredients all together.

I’ve adapted dedemed’s recipe to make the vegetarian layered version. After having made this moussaka recipe twice, it definitely meant her recipe is a keeper.  I paired Moussaka with Cacık – a Turkish seasoned yogurt, and there I had a nice and simple dinner.

What you need for the Vegetarian Layered Version of Moussaka, serves 6-8:
5 Tbsp olive oil
10 small or 2 large or 4 long eggplants, thick sliced
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup garlic, thinly sliced
1 can (15-16 oz) chickpeas aka garbanzo beans*
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp black pepper powder
¾ cup breadcrumbs
4-5 tomatoes, sliced
½ cup parsley, chopped (or substitute with cilantro)
1 can (16 oz) plain tomato sauce**
2 jalapeno or green chilies to taste, finely chopped
½ cup cheese, any, grated

*  Canned chickpeas substitute:  soak 1 cup chickpeas in 2 cups water overnight, drain, rinse in new water, pressure cook in 3-4 cups of water on medium heat for about 4-6 whistles or until tender.

** Canned tomato sauce substitute:  dip 4 tomatoes in boiling water, cover & let tomatoes get tender, about 5 minutes, let cool, then run them in a blender until you get fine tomato paste – use this as tomato puree for this or any recipe.  Tomato sauce ≠ tomato ketchup.

Preparation for Moussaka

Let’s Begin!

1.  You have 2 options to cook the eggplants – a) either toss the sliced eggplants in a bowl with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil, spread on baking sheet & bake 20 mins @ 450oF; or b) heat 2-3 Tbsp oil in a flat pan, place the sliced eggplants & cook both sides until done.  Keep aside.

2.  Heat a pan, add the remaining olive oil, sauté onion & garlic till translucent, add chickpeas, salt & black pepper, cook another 5 minutes.  Keep aside.

how to layer moussaka

3.  In a baking dish, sprinkle bottom layer with 2-3 Tbsp of breadcrumbs, top it with a layer of eggplants, then with tomato slices, sprinkle parsley, add the onion mixture layer, top it with few Tbsp of tomato sauce/puree, then jalapeno or chilies.  Mix remaining breadcrumbs with cheese in a small bowl & sprinkle on topmost layer in the baking dish.

baked moussaka, topped with breadcrumbs and cheese
 4.  Bake in a preheated oven @ 450oF for 35 mins.  Remove from oven, let sit on rack for 15 mins before serving.  Moussaka can be served hot or cold, can be made days in advance, can be eaten with rice, as a topping on chips, can be had with Cacık, or just as is.

Spusht | Moussaka eggplant casserole layered
Moussaka eggplant casserole, layered

Cacık (pronunciation: ja-jik) – Turkish seasoned yogurt
This seasoned yogurt can be used in various ways, such as a dip with chips, or spread on bread, or make it a bit runny like ‘raita’.  Sources of ideas:, & Wiki.  Found various versions and options of ingredients; but here’s what I did and this Cacik recipe serves 2:

1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup plain curd/yogurt (I hung it to make a Greek Yogurt consistency)
½ cup finely chopped cucumber
Salt to taste
Few drops of lime juice (optional)

In a small bowl, mix olive oil + garlic + mint leaves.  You’re going to love the aroma.  Then add yogurt, cucumber, salt & lime juice.  Done.
Refrigerate cacik for couple of hours for the flavors to blend; or you can use right away too.  You can also sprinkle some red chili powder, or sumac to garnish, if you have it & like it.

So, people, tell me some other great eggplant-based dishes you’ve had.
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  1. Looks so tasty and wonderful recipe !!

    Ongoing event CC-Dish For Loved Ones

  2. very new to me.....awesome preperation dear....yummy

  3. Looks very delicious..totally new to me,lovely!!

    Erivum Puliyum

  4. i have tasted this once in a mediteranian restaurant & loved the flavours (esp because im a brinjal lover). this looks delecious & so fancy :)

  5. I have never tasted it but I have seen it on Tv. It looked very complicated then, but you make it look so simple.

  6. got to know abt a new recipe a huge brinjal lover n i'm surely going to try this out...bookmarked:-)

  7. New to me. Looks delicious.Will be nice way to get in the brinjals in kiddos


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