The Balkans are a historical, cultural and ethical jumble. It is no surprise then that a person might find the same songs, dishes and customs in different parts of the peninsula. Each people adds something of its own and claims the rights to their culinary creation.
Moussaka is often seen as traditionally Greek by the international culinary community and pop culture supports this fact with full force. The truth is however, that its name comes from Arabic origins and it appeared in Greek lands much later than the time of Homer.
For the filling: 17.5 oz of mince, 1 onion head, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tomato, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of dill and parsley, nutmeg, curry, salt, black pepper, basil, rosemary, 1/2 cup red wine.
Preparation: Cut the eggplant into round slices, place in salted water and let them stand for 20 - 30 min. Then drain them out and fry until semi-cooked. Place on napkins to absorb the oil.
Roundly slice the potatoes and fry until semi-ready. Drain them. Friday onions until golden, add the mince, then the grated tomato, garlic and spices. Pour in the wine and stew under a lid, while periodically stirring. In a tray, arrange the fried eggplant, the mince on top and the potatoes at the very top.
Make a Bechamel sauce from the products for the sauce and once cool, beat the eggs carefully in it and stir. Pour this sauce over the moussaka. Grate mozzarella on top and bake in a pre-heated 356°F (180 °C) oven for about 40 min.
This is the modern popular recipe for Arabic moussaka. In the original translation however, "moussaka" literally means "cooled" and in the Arabic world, this name is used for salads of tomatoes and eggplants, served as cold appetizers.
The most popular version of moussaka is the Greek one. It is a dish consisting of 3 layers.
Ingredients: 2 lbs of potatoes, 2 lbs eggplants, 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 a crushed onion head, 9 oz of canned tomatoes, a little tomato juice, 1/2 cup white wine, 1 cup of olive oil, 1 handful of chopped parsley, salt, black pepper, 1 pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.
For the topping: 4 1/5 cups of milk, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 eggs, cheese.
Preparation: Cut the eggplants into circles and arrange them in a tray with a little salt on each. Cut the peeled potatoes and fry them in olive oil. Remove them from the saucepan before they are fully ready and set them aside. Also lightly fry the eggplants in the same oil, placing them on napkins after removing them to absorb some of the oil.
Fry the onion until browned, add the beef mince, as well as the wine after 10 min, the tomatoes, tomato juice, parsley, salt, black pepper and cinnamon to taste and half a cup of water. Once the water is absorbed, remove the mixture from the stove and add the grated cheese.
For the topping stir a cup of milk with the flour. Boil the remaining milk and mix it in gradually while stirring, in order to get a thick porridge. After removing from the stove, add in 2 whisked eggs as well, along with the nutmeg.
At the bottom of an oiled oven dish, arrange a row of potatoes. Cover with the meat blend. On top arrange a layer of eggplants and cover with the mixture again. Cover the last layer with the topping. Bake the moussaka in a moderate oven until browned.
The Turkish variant of moussaka is distinguished from the Greek one by the specific arrangement of the layers and topping. Even so, there are Turkish recipes where the ingredients are also arranged in 3 layers, with the last one consisting of roundly sliced tomatoes.
Ingredients: 17.5 oz beef mince, 1/2 can of tomatoes, 1/2 jar of pickles, 1 carrot, 5 - 6 eggs, 2 lbs of potatoes, 2/3 cup milk, butter, cheese, salt, black pepper.
Preparation: Knead the mince with the tomatoes. Boil the eggs and carrot. Make mashed potatoes. Fry the mince. In a buttered oven dish, distribute half the mashed potatoes, while dipping the spoon in melted butter occasionally so the mashed potatoes don't stick.
Add the mince on top and arrange round slices of pickles, the carrot and boiled eggs on top of it. Spread the other half of the mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake in the oven.