Damascu Bite originally opened in Spitalfields and moved to Brick Lane ten years ago. They create hearty, Syrian homecooking with simple dishes made with love and attention. As well as their succulent shawarmas and grilled meats, they specialise in vegetarian dishes which cater to the growing vegetarian and vegan clientele. Damascu Bite’s moussaka is unlike the well-known Greek moussaka and the similarity ends at the inclusion of aubergines. The dish is vegan and one of their popular offerings, simple to put together, packed full of flavour and even better the next day! The secret to a good moussaka, the chef tells me, is slowly sautéing the onion and peppers and really taking your time over them, so that you have perfectly translucent, tender veggies which are not deeply browned. The more aubergine the better so if you have an extra handful add it in. Pair this dish with a fresh, citrusy tabbouleh for a wonderfully filling and light meal.
Heat the oil on medium heat in a deep, wide pan and add the garlic, onions and peppers. Sauté for 20 to 30 minutes until translucent and perfectly soft but not browned. Make sure to keep an eye on the pan, and turn the heat to low if the onions begin to colour too much. Stir in the black pepper and salt, then add chopped tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes until you have a medium consistency sauce. Check and adjust the seasoning to taste, then set aside.
While the sauce is cooking, take a potato peeler and peel the aubergine in large strips, ensuring you take off about three-quarters of the skin.
Too much of the skin imparts a bitter taste but a little adds texture. Chop into
Now assemble your moussaka. Take the baking dish and put the fried aubergine in an even layer on the bottom. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, place in a small bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Spread the mash evenly over the aubergine and sprinkle the ground cumin on top. Finish with a layer of the tomato sauce and, if you like, add a few slices of fresh tomato and some chopped peppers on top.
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