“I am making Moussaka” – my mom uttered the four magic words, which made me drop everything, get in the car and head to her house in a great hurry, mouth dribbling as if I haven’t eaten in days and just smelled a hot loaf…
Everyone in the Med makes this fabulous dish, everyone with their small variations – the Greeks put aubergines in it, the Turks and Lebanese spice it up with a pinch of cinnamon, but the base of it is pretty much the same everywhere – mince and tatties with a great fluffy pillow of Bechamel on top. Of course, my mother’s version is the bestest and tastiest by far (Come on, be fair, no one can cook like your mom! Every bite of your mother’s signature dishes fills your mouth with that great, sweet taste of childhood! )
I get over in no time and can “taste” the Moussaka as soon as I smell it. The whole house is filled with wonderful aroma of wholesome home comforts.
“Gimme gimme gimme!” I shout impatiently form the door; “Your plate is already on the table” she says and hands me a fork….oh, Heaven….but why did I have to stuff my mouth with more than I can even chew? Way too greedy for my own good sometimes….
“I know how much you like this recipe, so I’m gonna let you have it for your blog” she goes, my grin getting wider. I have made moussaka plenty of times before but her’s is the “daddy” and will be great to get the exact recipe. ” You know how it is, I just “throw” it together, but this time I took a note of exactly what and how much of it goes in…I even took pictures!” Now I’m scared! My mom is a great cook, but doubling as a food photographer….? “Mooom, that’s my job! …Let me see..” She whips out her phone proudly and I flick through the images…hmmm, actually not as bad as I thought! A quick (well…not so quick) tweak here and there and, thank you Photoshop, we have a great picture story.
“Look’s like I’ve got a new helper”, I “wink at her, you understand that I’ll be expecting pics and recipes for ALL your dishes now…” (imaginary rubbing my hands together… how great will that be!)
“Eat your Moussaka” she smiles and leaves the kitchen, leaving me to savour each mouthful and read the recipe. Here is what it she’s written:
1/2 kg potatoes. Choose smaller potatoes, they are much better as less starchier. Moris Piper or similar variety will work best, I’d say. Peel and cut onto small cubes (2 cm max)
500 gr pork mince
3 carrots, peeled and cubed (1cm)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes – peeled and finely chopped. The easiest way to peel a tomato is to score the skin and drop for a minute in a bowl of boiling water
300 ml veg stock
4 tbsp sunflower oil
salt, paprika, summer savoury (marjoram or thyme will do just fine as “chubritza” or summer savoury can be difficult to come by in the western world)
Start off my heating the oil in a large deep saucepan. Throw in the cubed potatoes, onion and carrots and coat well in the oil. Fry for 5 minutes. Add the paprika and salt, stir and add the tomatoes. Cook for another 2, 3 minutes.
Add the mince and stir well. Don’t worry putting the whole block straight in, it will break down onto small pieces as it heats up and starts cooking. After it does that, add the stock and bring to a rapid boil. Sprinkle with the summer savoury, turn the heat down to medium and simmer away until the potatoes are soft and the liquid has almost fully evaporated. Depending on the type of potato you use (some varieties are denser in texture) you might need to add some more stock/water. Taste a potato from time to time, while stirring, to check if ready.
Tipple all into a baking tray and put in the oven at 160C/Gas 4 for 20-25 minutes.
While the base is cooking get a clean bowl ready and prep your sauce.
Crack and whisk the 4 eggs with the youghurt and that is all it takes! Bring out the Moussaka from the oven and poor the egg mixture over it.
Return to the oven and give it another 15 minutes or so to set and get golden-y-baked-y-delicious.
The Moussaka is now ready to serve and enjoy. Try it with a dollop of natural youghurt!
I’ve often wandered how something so simple as throwing a few potatoes and a packet of mince together can be so satisfying. Or is it the love that goes into it make it so?…Try and let me know how you get on