The moussaka (from the Greek language μουσακάς, mousakas ) is a traditional dish of the Balkans and the Middle East made of eggplants . The Gastronomy version of Greece , which is the best known internationally, consists of layers of minced meat of Lamb , sliced eggplant, and tomato , covered in a white sauce and baked.
The word is of Arabic origin and comes from saqqa’a , ‘freeze, turn white , ‘ but came to the languages of Western Europe through Greek.
In the Arab world , the moussaka is a salad cooked primarily made of tomatoes and eggplants , similar to the caponata of Italy , and is usually served cold as an appetizer . Despite being an Arabic name, moussaka is usually considered a Greek dish in the West . The Bulgarian , Serbian , and Bosnian versions are prepared with potatoes instead of aubergines.
In the common Greek (3-layer) recipe , the bottom layer consists of fried eggplant slices in olive oil , the middle layer is mashed lamb meat cooked with also mashed tomatoes, and the top layer is bechamel (probably introduced by Tselementes in the 1920s ). You can omit the butter from the bechamel, as well as reduce its amount or substitute it for cream . In the rest of the Balkans, the top layer is commonly a mixture of milk or cream, and egg; In England , in rare cases, a layer of mashed potatoes is used . Cheese or breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top.
There are variations on the basic recipe, sometimes without sauce, sometimes with other vegetables. The most common in Greece may include zucchini, potatoes, or mushrooms in addition to eggplant. There’s even a version for Lent in the Tselementes cookbook that omits meat and sauces , relying only on vegetables, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs.