If you're a loyal reader of Hungry Paprikas, you know my obsession with eggplant is real. So I naturally gravitate to any eggplant dish I find. Lebanese Moussaka is one of those eggplant dishes that I love because it's easy to make, completely vegan so it feels so light, and it has chickpeas. Who doesn't love chickpeas? It's also referred to as Maghmour, which is how I initially discovered it.
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What is Lebanese Moussaka or Maghmour?
You might be familiar with the term 'Moussaka' as the Greek layered casserole type of dish. But believe it or not, the word 'Moussaka' is actually an Arabic term meaning 'cold' and it's a common Middle Eastern dish that's actually made slightly differently in each Arabic country. In Iraq, the closest version of 'Moussaka' is called Tapsi Betenjan or what I called a Mediterranean Eggplant Casserole (it's so good - try it!!). But I digress - back to the Lebanese version.
I discovered this Lebanese Moussaka at a restaurant in London when I used to live there, and I fell in love. It's an eggplant, chickpeas, onion and tomato dish flavoured with garlic and a few spices, typically eaten chilled with pita bread. The eggplant is traditionally fried and added to the onion, tomato and chickpeas that are cooked together in a pan, kind of like a stew.
I desperately wanted to share the recipe with you and wanted it to be as close as possible to the authentic taste, so a few voice notes to my Lebanese best friend later, and here we are. I have all her mama's tips! Thanks Jackie!
What ingredients do you need?
The ingredients are really simple and I typically have most of them at home. I use canned chickpeas but you can also use pre-soaked and pre-cooked chickpeas in this recipe. For the spices, you can adjust the chilli powder to your liking.
How do you make Lebanese Moussaka?
This dish comes together really quickly once the eggplant is roasted. In fact, that's the first thing we do while we prepare everything else. Here's how to make it:
- Start by preheating your oven to 425F, then prepare your eggplant
- Wash the eggplant and peel it every other stripe, like a zebra pattern. Then cut it into medium sized cubes by slicing the eggplant lengthwise into 3 slices, then cutting each slice into roughly 8 cubes. It doesn't need to be perfect, as long as they're roughly the same size
- Toss the eggplant with the salt and oil, then lay on a baking sheet with PARCHMENT PAPER (yes I forgot to use it in the photo) so nothing sticks. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes
- Prepare the other ingredients by chopping the onions into medium chunks, mincing or grating the garlic, and grating the tomatoes. Grating the tomatoes ensures you don't get the tomato skin and also makes it melt into a sauce
- With some oil, cook the onions for 5 minutes until they soften and start to caramelize, then add the washed and drained chickpeas, the garlic, and the spices. Continue stirring to toast the spices and the chickpeas slightly
- Add the grated tomato with juices, stir, cover and let everything simmer for 10 minutes. If the tomatoes are not that juicy, you can add a few tablespoons of water to help it along
- Once eggplant is ready, add it to the pot and very gently fold it into the mixture so as not to squish it. Cover and allow everything to simmer for 5 minutes. Taste, adjust, and you're done!
Expert tips and FAQs
- Traditionally, the eggplant is fried, which you can absolutely do. It will definitely add more flavour, but I simply think we don't need the extra oil and the flavour with roasting is excellent. It's also less messy to roast
- Instead of canned chickpeas, you can use dry chickpeas that have been already half cooked. This means you need to soak your chickpeas overnight, then boil them until they're just soft, not too soft, since they'll continue to cook in the moussaka
- You can add more tomato to the dish to make it more "saucy" if you like, just adjust the salt and other seasoning if you do that
How do you serve it?
Lebanese moussaka is typically served chilled with pita bread, and eaten by scooping it up using your hands. I love to eat it hot as well - it really works beautifully both ways. I've also had it with rice and it didn't disappoint. You can garnish it with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro.
My friend's mom also serves it in layers, by firstly adding the eggplant layer to the bottom of the plate, then the chickpeas, then the tomatoes and onions. I'm usually in a rush so I just mix it all together. Either way - this recipe is amazing and you need to try it! If you do - be sure to leave a review and a comment, I love hearing from you.
More eggplant recipes
Lebanese Moussaka (Maghmour | Vegan)
- 2 large eggplants approximately 800g total
- 2 large tomatoes
- 3 small onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 can chickpeas 540mL (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Water as needed
For the Eggplant:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup olive oil or any vegetable oil
- Preheat your oven to 425F
- Start by washing the eggplant and peeling it every other stripe lengthwise, to make zebra pattern. Then slice the eggplant into 3 slices lengthwise, then cut each slices into medium sized cubes
- Toss the eggplant with the oil and salt, then lay on a parchment lined baking sheet (do not overcrowd them) and bake for 30 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes at the end.
- Prepare the other ingredients by chopping the onion into medium sized chunks, washing and draining the chickpeas, mincing or grating the garlic, and grating the tomatoes and keeping its juices in a bowl
- In a pan on medium heat, add the oil and onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the chickpeas, garlic and the spices and continue to cook for a few minutes until the spices and chickpeas are toasted
- Add the grated tomatoes with all the juices, stir, then cover and let everything simmer for 10 minutes
- Once ready, add the eggplant to the pan, and very gently stir until just combined. Cover and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Uncover, taste, adjust anything you need to like the salt, and then either serve it hot or place in the fridge to chill
- You can use dry chickpeas that have already been half cooked. So they should be soft but still holding their shape and not overly mushy
- Traditionally the eggplant is fried, but I choose to roast so I can use less oil and because it's also less messy. But you can definitely fry them if you prefer
- If the tomatoes you're using are not that juicy, you can help it along by adding a few tablespoons of water to help everything simmer together