Friday, September 17, 2010
Nom, Nom, Yum - Lebanese Moussaka
I have shared this vegetarian recipe with a couple of people recently and decided to share it with ALL of the people (or "ALL of the humans," as my five year-old would say). While I was at it, I converted various metric measurements (recipe was adapted from a Nigella Lawson dish) and otherwise "de-Britished" it (thus, "cilantro" instead of "coriander" - but I will admit to liking "aubergine" TONS more than "eggplant," and am thinking of adopting aubergine as an affectation).
LEBANESE AUBERGINE MOUSSAKA (see? I'm using it already!)
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole if small (or fewer large cloves cut in half)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 (14-oz.) cans of tomatoes, including liquid, chopped (or equivalent in fresh tomatoes, deskinned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
Pinch dried mint (optional)
3/4 cup water
Fresh parsley, cilantro or mint for serving (optional)
Measure out the salt, cinnamon, black pepper, all spice and dried mint into a small bowl and set aside.
Trim the stems off the aubergines and cut into cubes about 1 inch thick. In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and sauté the aubergines for a few minutes or until golden brown. With a slotted spoon remove to a side dish covered with kitchen paper and reserve.
Add the remaining oil, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly. After about 5 minutes, when the onion is translucent and soft, add the chick peas. Stir for another 5 minutes and then add the pomegranate molasses and return the reserved aubergines to the pan.
Add the tomatoes and sprinkle with the spices. Add the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to moderately low. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
1) The last time I made this, I omitted the pomegranate molasses (which you buy in the juice section at Central Market - top shelf, next to the pomegranate juice products) and it was just fine without it. Also omitted the mint - didn't miss it. The cinnamon and allspice are what really make this dish.
2) I have substituted organic pasta sauce (really good stuff) for some of the canned tomatoes, and that worked as well.
3) Cook it until it is appropriately mushy - I've gone past an hour before, because it just didn't look done at the one hour mark. It should have the consistency of stew. Terra Grill in Fort Worth basically uses this recipe, but they serve theirs casserole style, and that's another option - throw it in a casserole, top with some mozzarella or other white cheese and bake it until the cheese melts. Otherwise, it comes out like a good, hearty stew.