Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Taste of Turkey: Moussaka


Turks are masters at one hundred and one ways to cook eggplant, and if you think you don’t like eggplant, most likely you never had it well prepared. Moussaka is my easiest Turkish company dish. In fact any friends or family who read this now are probably rolling their eyes because they've eaten this so many times at our house. I can cook this in my sleep, so it gets me out of many binds. Just last week after a day of souvenir shopping I rushed home with out of town guests at 6:00 p.m. to whip up this taste of Turkey:

Moussaka
This Turkish moussaka is not to be confused with the Greek version, which is baked with a béchamel sauce on top.

Ingredients:

750 g. (1 1/2 lb.) long eggplant
1 chopped onion
4-5 cloves minced garlic
3 chopped sweet green Italian peppers (or 1 large green bell pepper)
400-500 g. ground beef (about 1 lb.)
2-3 grated tomatoes* or 1 cup tomato puree
4 TBSP olive oil, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBSP tomato or pepper paste mixed with 2 TBSP water
Heaping 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

* To grate a tomato, cut it in half, place the cut side down on a grater, and gently grate the pulp, until only the peel is left under your hand on the grater. Discard the peel.

Preparation:

1. Peel half the skin off the eggplants, leaving alternating strips of peel down the side. Chop the eggplant into cubes. (about 1  x 1/2 inch)  Let this soak in salted water while you chop the garlic and onion.

2.  Fry the onion and peppers in 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil in a large lidded skillet, adding the garlic at the end.  When the garlic is fragrant, add the ground beef and stir while it cooks.  When the meat is cooked through, add the grated tomato or tomato puree, cover and simmer.

3. Heat 2 1/2 TBSP oil in another skillet and toss the eggplant, allowing it to brown lightly.  Stir often so that it doesn't burn.  Lower the heat and cover for 2-3 minutes so that it cooks partially.  If necessary, add a few TBSP of water so that it won't stick. (Eggplant absorbs oil quickly, but by covering it, you can continue cooking without adding more oil.)

4. Once the eggplant is partially cooked, add it to the cooking meat and tomato mixture.  Add the sugar, salt, tomato paste, and parsley.  Stir lightly and cover.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until eggplant is tender.

Serve with rice.

What's your favorite dish to cook for company?

5 comments:

TJ said...

We often do tacos because it is easy and I promised my son I would make them once a week. If I have time, I like to do a tajik stew that has potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, onions, and cumin. It has become a comfort food for us but takes over an hour to cook.

My family has learned to love eggplant living on this side of the world. I will have to try your recipe soon. Thanks for sharing.

OliveTree said...

I would love to try the recipe for the Tajik stew! I think you're right, by the way, about your comment on small steps with language learning. Grace to you as you continue learning slowly but steadily.

Choate Family said...

We have LOADS of eggplant in the village, so we make moussaka at least once a week there. My favorite for company? Anything in the crockpot, which makes a calmer hosting family :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this recipe. I'd been planning to make this for days and we enjoyed it very much tonight.

dilaver said...

abla, su musakkadan yapsan, bizde yesek, test etsek olmaz mi :(