I really wanted to prepare a moussaka, preferably one like my mother used to make but my memory of the recipe was a bit fuzzy so I started doing some research. I realized quite quickly that there are many moussaka recipes, most stemming from Greece, as most would expect.
Traditionally, Greek moussaka is a baked lamb and eggplant casserole covered with a thick layer of bechamel sauce that becomes golden and crispy. It can be made with other ingredients as well, such as lamb and eggplant, using beef, or vegetables like zucchini or potatoes.
Greeks believe that the moussaka was introduced when the Arabs brought the eggplant, although Arabs, especially in Lebanon, think of the dish as Greek. Moussaka is also found in Turkey and differentiates itself by sautéing the eggplant and using strictly minced beef. The Ottoman empire played a significant part in the way many cultures would adapt and create their own version of the moussaka.
The Bosnian version (as well as Serbian & Croatian) is quite simpler than the traditional Greek moussaka. It is made with minced beef and sliced potatoes. Bosnian or former Yugoslavian food tends to not use too many spices and is generally quite a simple cuisine that uses simple ingredients and preparation, making it quite accessible.
Bosnian people, like their Slavic counterparts, love their meat and potatoes so it makes sense that the moussaka would include those ingredients. The Russians also have their own moussaka, however their version does not include an additional layer of sliced potatoes but rather cheese is used to top the minced beef.
It seems that most cultures have adapted their own moussaka but the Bosnian version is closest to my heart and frankly, one of the easiest to make. Here is how I made the Bosnian version and it turned out quite delicious.
- Ground Beef (400 gr. or 14 oz)
- Minced Onion (1)
- Potato (3 – large)
- Egg (1)
- Milk (1 cup)
- Melted Butter (1-2 tbs)
- Salt & Pepper (1-2 tbs or as desired)
Sauté minced onion and add ground beef. Add salt and pepper. Put aside and heat oven to 375 Fehrenheit.
Cut potatoes into small slices and start layering it on a buttered surface in a deep pan. Once the first layer has fully covered the pan’s bottom surface, add all of the sautéed beef. Spread the beef evenly over the potatoes. Repeat the same process, covering all of the beef with the remaining potatoes. Spread melted butter on the top surface of the potatoes so that they can become brown and crispy.
In a separate bowl, mix egg with milk and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bake moussaka for 15 minutes while covered with aluminum foil. Add the egg and milk mixture over the entire moussaka and cook for another 30 minutes uncovered.
Let moussaka stand for 10-15 minutes as it will be very hot. You can also add some shredded cheese if desired.