I never really liked Brinjal cooked as a stir-fry or curry in the Indian way except for the occasional Baingan Bharta – brinjal fire-grilled and mashed to a pulp and adding of mustard oil, green chillies, onions and seasoning – this is the Assamese version. Another version of this dish involves further stir-frying the brinjal mash with tomatoes and spices. I enjoy both versions. In weddings, I remember being served this besan batter fried brinjal slices, which is common to both Assamese and Bengali cuisines.
Apart from the above, one dish that really made me fall in love with the eggplant all over again is when I attempted to cook the stove-top version of Ratatouille soon after watching the movie by the same name. Much later, I tried the baked version and that too had an incredible taste although I would prefer the stove-top version more.
I will be posting both these recipes soon.
So, the other day, we friends were discussing what we were planning to prepare for the weekend. I had an abundance of my favourite round eggplant and I wanted to prepare a bake with it and so my friend suggested the Vegetarian Aubergine Moussaka as I didn’t have minced meat. After my maiden attempt at it, I can’t thank my friend enough for this wonderful idea. And surprisingly, my husband too enjoyed it a lot. I did see him helping himself to several generous servings. 😀
Now, there are many different versions of preparing Moussaka but the two most common method makes use of eggplants, tomatoes and a protein like meat mince or lentil. The topping too differs – some prefer a bechamel sauce while others make a yoghurt based one with the addition of raw eggs which when baked forms a kind of omelette topping. My recipe makes use of the latter. In the traditional method, the eggplant and if using, zucchini is cut into round slices and deep fried but the healthier version now adopted is baking them instead. I adopted this approach too as I didn’t want to have a greasy bake.
Moussaka actually means “chilled” in Arabic which tends to suggest that it is served chilled although I like to have it warm.
So, here is the recipe:
Red lentil & Aubergine Moussaka (Vegetarian)
Source: BBC Food
For the filling:
- 400g aubergines, sliced into thin rounds (about 4 medium round brinjals)
- 50ml vegetable oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 50g tomato purée
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 100g red lentils, cooked
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried.
For the topping
- 125g ricotta or any other cheese
- 125g Greek-style yoghurt or hung curd
- 3 eggs
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Prepare the filling: Toss the aubergine slices in the vegetable oil, then drain and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the slices on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil and place in the oven for about 18-20 minutes till tender and golden. Flip them halfway. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomato purée, stir to coat the vegetables in it, then continue to fry for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the lentils and return the fried/grilled aubergines to the mixture. Simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the chopped parsley. For the topping, in a bowl, beat together the ricotta, Greek-style yoghurt, eggs and grated nutmeg until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour the topping mixture into the ovenproof dish on top of the filling. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan. Instead of the parmesan topping, I added a mixture of breadcrumbs with melted butter and seasonings.
- Transfer the veggie moussaka to the oven pre-heated to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown and has set and the filling is bubbling. Serve immediately.
I urge you to try this recipe especially if you love eggplants like I do! I ate this for lunch the day before with nothing on the side as it is a meal by itself and quite heavy too. Or you could have this with a loaf of crusty bread and butter. Or even roasted potatoes! Do try it! Please hit the Like button if you enjoyed this post and also use the share button to share this recipe in the social network. Thanks!