AskDefine | Define moussaka

Dictionary Definition

moussaka n : casserole of eggplant and ground lamb with onion and tomatoes bound with white sauce and beaten eggs

User Contributed Dictionary



< Arabic


  1. a dish consisting of layers of minced lamb or beef, sliced aubergine (eggplant) or potatoes, tomatoes and béchamel sauce, baked in the oven


Extensive Definition

Moussaka ([musa'ka]; , South Slavic: мусака/​musaka, from lang-tr musakka, ultimately from musaqqaa "chilled" ) is a traditional eggplant (aubergine)-based dish in the Balkans and the Middle East, but most closely associated with Greece and Turkey. The Greek version, which is the best-known outside the region, traditionally consists of layers of ground (minced) lamb or red meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with a white sauce and baked. Turkish musakka, unlike the Greek version, is not layered. Instead, it is prepared with sautéed and fried eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat. It is eaten with cacık and pilaf ("Pilav" in Turkish). There are also variants with zucchini (courgette), carrots and potatoes. In the Arab world, moussaka is a cooked salad made up primarily of tomatoes and eggplant, similar to Italian caponata, and is usually served cold as a mezze dish. The Slavic Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and Romanian versions are also made with potatoes. Despite its Arabic name, moussaka is usually thought of as a Greek dish in the West.
In the standard (3-layer) Greek recipe, the bottom layer consists of eggplant slices sautéed in olive oil; the middle layer is ground lamb precooked with onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, herbs (bay leaf, oregano, thyme), and spices (cinnamon, allspice and black pepper); and the top layer is a cheese-flavoured béchamel sauce, or egg custard (probably introduced by Tselementes in the 1920s). The three layers are laid in a lightly buttered or oiled pan and baked until the top béchamel layer turns golden brown. No more baking is required as the bottom two layers are already almost cooked beforehand.
The butter in the béchamel can be omitted, used sparingly, or substituted by cream. In the rest of the Balkans, the top layer is often a custard. Grated cheese or bread crumbs are often sprinkled on top.
There are variations on this basic recipe, sometimes with no sauce, sometimes with other vegetables. The most common variant in Greece may include zucchini (courgette), part-fried potatoes or sautéed mushrooms in addition to the eggplant. There is even a fast-day version in the Greek cookbook by Tselementes which includes neither meat nor béchamel sauce, just vegetables (ground eggplant is used instead of ground meat), tomato sauce, and bread crumbs.


moussaka in Bosnian: Musaka
moussaka in Bulgarian: Мусака
moussaka in Cebuano: Musaka
moussaka in German: Mousakas
moussaka in Spanish: Moussaka
moussaka in French: Moussaka
moussaka in Italian: Moussaka
moussaka in Hebrew: מוסקה
moussaka in Dutch: Moussaka
moussaka in Japanese: ムサカ
moussaka in Portuguese: Moussaka
moussaka in Romanian: Musaca
moussaka in Russian: Мусака
moussaka in Finnish: Musaka
moussaka in Swedish: Moussaka
moussaka in Tagalog: Musaka
moussaka in Turkish: Musakka
moussaka in Ukrainian: Мусака
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