Sultan’s Moussaka

Patlıcan musakkası

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4-5

Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

Moussaka tends to be associated with Greece, yet it is as much part of Turkish cuisine as it is of Greek. In Turkish the word musakka simply denotes a dish of fried vegetables with minced meat. Although the cuisines of the two countries share a history of imaginative dishes using aubergines and minced lamb, the white sauce was probably invented by the chefs of the Palace kitchens in Istanbul, who would have devised milk-based sauces to lend an air of sophistication to certain dishes. Today a sauceless version seems popular, but it does not match up to the classic cinnamon-spiced musakka,, which is particularly good made with keçup, instead of currants, to bind and sweeten the meat, then capped with its soothing white sauce. It should melt in the mouth.

Ingredients

  • 4 aubergines, sliced crossways and soaked in salted water for 1 hour
  • sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter, or olive oil with a little butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons keçup, or 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in water
  • 1 lb/450 g lean minced lamb
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried basil or oregano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 10-12 fl oz/300-350 ml milk
  • pinch of salt and freshly grated or ground nutmeg

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F/Mark 6/200C
  • Drain the aubergines and squeeze dry. Heat a thick layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergines until golden-brown. Drain them on kitchen paper and put aside.
  • Soften the onions and garlic in the butter or olive oil. Stir in the lamb, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the keçup, cinnamon and basil and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Layer the aubergines and meat tightly in an oven-proof dish, starting and ending with the aubergines.
  • Prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter, remove from the heat and stir in enough flour to make a thick roux. Add the milk and stir continuously over a medium heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. (To make a richer sauce you can add 1-2 beaten egg yolks at this stage — first beat a little of the hot sauce into the egg yolks, then add them to the pan and beat vigorously.) Season with the salt and nutmeg. Spoon the sauce evenly over the top layer of aubergines, and place the dish in the oven for 25-30 minutes to brown the top and let the flavours mingle. Serve straight from the oven.