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.
© 1995 Ghillie Basan. All rights reserved.