This afternoon, I had the best moussaka of my life.
It was at a Turkish restaurant in San Francisco – despite what you may have thought, Turks have moussaka as well as the Greeks!
This moussaka was not layered, as the Greek version is. Here, ground beef (not lamb) is mixed with tomato sauce and spices plus thinly-sliced eggplant. In this particular version, it did use a bechamel topping that had a cheesy goodness (Turkish moussaka does not normally use bechamel, but Greek always does) plus it uniquely used red peppers and most importantly mint in the meat filling. It also mixed zucchini with the eggplant, a touch I especially liked.
I of course immediately sought to replicate this – since it combines both Greek and Turkish elements I call my version “Cypriot” after the island of Cyprus where both nationalities reside. Also, I am specifying Cypriot Halloumi cheese and there is also a moussaka served on the island as well.
The English name for moussaka comes from modern Greek mousakás (μουσακάς), which derived from the Turkish musakka, which itself came from Arabic musaqqa‘ah (مسقعة), meaning “chilled”.
Citizens – this recipe is (immodestly) totally delicious and I hope you will try this magnificent fusion of two mighty cuisines for yourself!
Battle on – The Generalissimo