Tony’s take on Moussaka

Tony’s take on Moussaka
Tony's Moussaka. Photo: Louis Pieterse

There are as many recipes for moussaka as there are Greek mammas. Many include potatoes, others don’t. This one does not have potatoes, but there’s nothing to stop you from adding a layer of them if you really want to. I prefer the simpler, lighter meal you get when leaving them out. I also add lemon, many wouldn’t.

500g lamb or beef mince

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Leaves of 5 or 6 oregano sprigs, picked

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 bay leaf

1 small cinnamon stick (or part of one)

3 Tbs olive oil for frying the onions

Olive oil for frying brinjals

2 or 3 large brinjals, sliced thinly from top to bottom

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic salt or flakes to taste

1 glass dry red wine (optional)

For a change, I only sliced the brinjals in half, though usually I slice them in several slim pieces. I found that this was great for the look of the finished dish, with the slices showing through the bechamel. Fry the brinjal/aubergine slices in olive oil until soft and lightly golden, seasoning lightly with salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside.

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent, or allow them to brown a little if you like.

Add the bay leaf, tomatoes (and red wine if using) and oregano, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, stir and bring to a simmer. Add the mince, working it with a wooden spoon to ensure that it doesn’t clump. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, over a low heat for half an hour. The liquid should almost entirely have cooked away, but don’t let it catch.


4 Tbs butter

2 heaped Tbs plain flour

2 bay leaves

1 litre full cream milk


Bring the milk until just off the boil but remove from the heat as soon as it starts simmering/rising. Keep to hand.

Melt butter in a saucepan but do not let it bubble. Remove from the heat as soon as it’s melted.

Quickly stir in the flour and mix thoroughly until it’s a smooth roux.

Over a moderate heat, add the milk a cup or so at a time (just pour some in, Cyril, you don’t need to measure), stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. When it thickens, add more and continue until incorporated.

Once all the milk is in, add the bay leaves, salt lightly, and simmer over a low heat for up to 15 minutes. Never stop stirring.

Assemble & Bake

Grease a deep oven dish. Add all the cooked mince and even it out. Make a layer of all the brinjal slices. Pour over the bechamel. Trickle some melted butter over the top.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for half an hour. DM


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