Today I will make a Turkish moussaka in my version, reinvented and adapted to my family’s tastes. It will be a delicious moussaka with pork mince, Greek yoghurt and manchego cheese, a combination of international flavours but in the end, with a remarkable result.
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The history of the moussaka recipe is very distant and interesting. Although the most widespread recipe these days is the Greek one, the recipe comes from the Middle East and contains several variants.
If the Greek version, moussaka contains several layers of eggplant or potatoes and minced meat, over which they pour a bechamel sauce. In the Turkish version, there is only a layer of fried eggplant, over which they add the mince sautéed in tomato sauce.
Let me show you how I made this recipe and what ingredients I used.
Since I will serve four people, I need three medium-sized ripe eggplants. To know if the eggplant is ripe, look at its end, opposite the one with the tail; it doesn’t have to be green.
I will replace the lamb or beef in the original recipes with leaner pork mince, which I will use about 400 g (0.9 lb). I will make a ragu from this meat and add the following ingredients:
- 500 g tomato passata;
- One medium-sized onion;
- Three cloves of garlic;
- A teaspoon of each tomato paste for even more flavour, and pepper paste to introduce a Hungarian ingredient;
- Dried dill because I like it;
- Turmeric and ginger powder to still have some oriental taste;
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper because they must be.
And on top, I will still add something new, namely 200 ml of Greek yoghurt, which will give freshness to the dish, and 50 g (0.6 cups) of grated manchego cheese, one of my favourites. Of course, you can replace this with another type of cheese, such as cheddar.
Preparing the Ingredients
Before I start cooking, I will prepare the ingredients, especially the eggplants. In many recipes, I have seen that the eggplants were peeled before frying them, and in others, not so I chose an intermediate option, peel them in strips, leaving a strip of skin on them.
After that, I slice them, cut them into 1.5-2 cm slices, and put them in a large bowl. I sprinkle two teaspoons of sea salt over them and cover them with water, letting them sit for about 20-30 minutes. The role of salt water is to soften them a little, reduce the bitter taste and prevent them from changing colour.
After this, I will finely chop the onion, and I can start cooking.
How to Make the Turkish Moussaka
Make a Pork Mince Sautee
Heat two tablespoons of sunflower oil in a larger pan and fry the chopped onion for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt and fry, stirring, until the onion softens and becomes glassy.
I add the minced pork and mix with a wooden spoon to cook gently for 2-3 minutes until it changes colour and becomes more whitish.
Season the pork mince with one teaspoon of sea salt, ginger powder, dried dill and half a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper and turmeric. Turmeric will also give a beautiful colour to the dish, and every Turkish moussaka recipe recommends using this.
I mix the meat with all the spices that will absorb the little liquid from the pan, so now I add the tomato paste and a teaspoon each of tomato and paprika paste.
To be cooked, minced meat needs about twenty minutes on medium heat; therefore, it will need more liquid. I will also pour 200 ml (1/2 cup) of water and add the garlic I grated beforehand.
In the end, to give a contrast in colour and an extra flavour to the moussaka, I add half a bunch of chopped parsley and turn off the heat.
Fry the Eggplant Slices
Before frying the eggplants, I will drain them from the water and spread them on a kitchen towel to dry them well. I recommend that you dry them well; otherwise, they will splash oil all over the kitchen when you fry them.
Because in the Turkish moussaka recipes, the eggplants are deeply fried, I will heat about half a litre of sunflower oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough, put the eggplant slices and fry them for about 2-3 minutes on each side until they get golden but without burning them.
After it’s fried, I’ll remove the eggplant slices on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Layer the Dishes
Now that everything is ready, all we have to do is assemble the Turkish moussaka. For this, in a non-stick oven dish (I used a ceramic one), I place the fried eggplant slices on top of which I will sprinkle a teaspoon of chilli flakes.
Over them, I will pour all the amount of pork ragu that will penetrate between the eggplant slices without the need to add oil under them at all.
Usually, Turkish moussaka recipe stops here, but I will continue adding some Greek yoghurt, about 200 ml, and 50 g of grated manchego cheese, which will melt on top and look fantastic.
Put the tray in the oven preheated to 180 C for just 15 minutes until the cheese melts, and it will have a copper colour.
And that’s all; this was the Turkish moussaka recipe made in my style and was a great success. Try and taste these recipes, or if you have other ideas, write them to me, and I will try them.
What is the difference between Turkish and Greek moussaka?
The Greek version includes layers of meat and eggplant or potatoes topped with a white bechamel sauce and baked, compared to the Turkish moussaka, which contains thinly sliced eggplant, fried and served in tomato-based meat sauce and seasoned with garlic and onions.
What meat is moussaka made from?
Because the original moussaka recipe comes from Arab countries in the Levant area, it contains lamb or beef mince. Later, when it spread in the Balkans and the west, recipes with minced pork, chicken or turkey also appeared.
Can you reheat moussaka the next day?
Of course, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to five days and reheat it in the oven, microwave or saucepan, but be careful not to crush the eggplants when mixing.
Serving the Moussaka
I like to serve the Turkish moussaka while it is still hot and with fresh bread, possibly with some simple salad. But it can also be done with rice or bulgur, according to everyone’s preferences.
One of the main ingredients of my Turkish moussaka recipe is minced pork, which I use quite often in dishes. I will now show you other recipes from my blog in which I use this ingredient:
- Eggplant With Minced Pork
- Pasta With Pork Mince Mushrooms and Double Cream
- Romanian Meatball Soup
- Hungarian Stuffed Peppers
- Stuffed Aubergines Recipe
- Basic Easy Meatloaf Recipe
- Best Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- Stuffed Collard Greens Recipe
- Cabbage Casserole Recipe
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- 1 ceramic baking dish
- 3 pieces eggplants medium-sized
- 2 tsp sea salt kosher
- 500 ml sunflower oil or vegetable oil
- 400 g pork mince 15% fat
- 1 piece onion medium size, chopped
- 2 tsp sea salt kosher
- ½ tsp ground pepper freshly ground
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp dill dried
- 500 g tomato passata
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp paprika paste
- 200 ml water
- ½ bunch parsley chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 200 ml Greek yoghurt full-fat
- 50 g manchego cheese grated
- Peel the eggplants in strips, leaving some strips of skin on them and cut them into 1.5-2 cm slices.
- Put the slices in a large bowl, sprinkle two teaspoons of sea salt over them and cover them with water, letting them sit for about 20-30 minutes.
- Heat two tablespoons of sunflower oil in a larger pan and fry the chopped onion for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt and fry until the onion softens.
- Add the minced pork and mix with a wooden spoon to cook gently for 2-3 minutes until it changes colour and becomes more whitish.
- Season with one teaspoon of sea salt, ginger powder, dried dill and half a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper and turmeric.
- Mix the meat with all the spices and add the tomato paste and a teaspoon each of tomato and paprika paste.
- Pour 200 ml (1/2 cup) of water, add the grated garlic and cook for about twenty minutes on medium heat. Add half a bunch of chopped parsley and turn off the heat.
- Drain the eggplant slices from the water and spread them on a kitchen towel to dry them well.
- Heat about half a litre of sunflower oil in a pan and fry the eggplants for about 2-3 minutes on each side until they get golden.
- Remove the eggplant slices on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
- In a ceramic oven dish, place the fried eggplant slices on top of which sprinkle a teaspoon of chilli flakes.
- Pour over all the amount of pork ragu that will penetrate between the eggplant slices.
- Add the Greek yoghurt on top and the grated manchego cheese.
- Put the tray in the oven preheated to 180 C for just 15 minutes until the cheese melts, and it will have a copper colour.
- Serve while it is still hot, with fresh bread, rice or bulgur, and possibly with a simple salad.