Friday, 14 September 2007
This was the main course that I prepared for the Dinner at Restaurant Dharm last Saturday(8 Sept).
Most of the dishes I make have some history to it - some sordid story involving hungry, drunken flatmates or some girl I was trying to impress in university or just simply a dish I experimented with. More often than not, it involves trying to recreate something my wife tasted elsewhere and raved and ranted about (she can get quite crazy in these rants and raves.....) However, I must admit and give credence to the fact that my cooking repertoire increased substantially, maybe even exponentially, after I got married.
Moussaka is typically a baked casserole with layers of minced lamb and eggplant covered with a layer of bechamel sauce. There are some variations on this theme and I generally like to add layers of potatoes as well. My moussaka doesn't really have a story other than the fact that I decided to make one an evening long, long ago. I looked at various recipes and decided to just whip up a bolognese style sauce, using lamb of course, and use layers of eggplant and potatoes.
This dish can be a little bit oily due in no small amount to the lamb as well as the fact that you are supposed to fry the eggplant and potato slices until they are tender. In an effort to be a litle bit more health conscious, I baked the eggplant slices this time but I think frying them makes them a whole lot more tender and the flavours tend to fuse and meld in better.
This is my recipe for Moussaka:
3 large round Eggplants (also known as Aubergines or Brinjals)
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
800g Minced Lamb
4 Large Tomatoes
3 Tbsp Tomato paste
2 tsps Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Oil for frying
500 ml milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 Slices Cheddar Cheese
Extra cheddar cheese for topping
Cut eggplant into thin slices. Degorge the eggplant by sprinkling with salt and placing in a colander for about 20 minutes. This removes the excess moisture.
Chop onion and garlic and set aside. Slice tomatoes into thin slices and set aside
Pare potatoes and slice into thin slices. Set aside.
Heat Oil and fry onion, garlic and pepper till fragrant. Add in lamb and cook well until meat is well browned. Add in tomatoes and cook till tomatoes break up. Add tomato paste and some water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, pat eggplants dry. Heat oil in large frying pan. Be careful not to use too much oil as eggplant will soak a lot up. Fry eggplant until tender. Drain
Fry potato slices until tender. Drain
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce
Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and cook the flour in the butter. Add in milk and mix well ensuring that flour is incorporated. Cook on high heat stirring constantly till mixture thickens. Break cheese slices into mixture and stir well. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
Assembling the Moussaka
Spread some of the meat sauce into a rectangular casserole dish.
Cover with a layer of eggplant slices then potato slices. Cover with another layer of meat sauce. Do this repeatedly finishing with a layer of meat sauce.
Cover top layer with Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with chopped Cheddar cheese
Bake in 190C Oven for about 20 minutes or till top is lightly browned. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.