Recipes: The Ultimate Moussaka Recipe

The excellent Felicity Cloake in The Guardian tells us that this wonderfully flavoured, soft dish isn’t just a Greek dish – like all the best central dishes it is made, in one way or another, all over the Middle East. It’s the perfect comfort food for a cold spring or summer’s day – tender lamb, rich aubergine and lashings of bechamel – without being too heavy. Feel free to throw in some chilli but don’t overwhelm the cinnamon!



  • 4 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced lengthways about 1 cm thick
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 500g minced lamb
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée, mixed with 150ml water, or 150ml passata
  • 150ml red wine
  • Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped



  • 500ml milk
  • 60g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 50g pecorino cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Nutmeg, to grate


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 0.5cm slices, and put them on to oiled baking sheets. Brush with olive oil and season. Bake for about 25 minutes until soft, golden and floppy.2. Put 2 tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cinnamon and oregano and cook for a further couple of minutes, then stir in the lamb. Turn up the heat slightly, and brown the lamb well, cooking until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in the tomato and wine, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down low and cook for 30–40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season and stir in the parsley.3. Meanwhile, make the bechamel. Bring the milk to just below boiling point, and melt the butter in another saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter and cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook until you have a thick sauce, then stir in the cheese until melted. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, salt to taste and slightly more nutmeg than you might think wise (it’s a strong flavour, but you need a heft of it in this dish I think – half a teaspoon at least).4. Arrange a third of the aubergines in the base of an oven dish, and top with half the meat. Repeat these layers, then finish off with a layer of aubergine, and top with the sauce. Bake for about 45 minutes until well browned, and then leave to cool for half an hour before serving.