Most of us are familiar with Greek moussaka, but do you also know the Egyptian version?Egyptian Moussaka, which is called Eggplant Mesaka’a is the cousin of this popular Mediterranean dish and a delicious way to enjoy eggplant. This vegan dish however differs as there is no ground meat, potatoes or béchamel sauce. Rather it is a simple aubergine dish prepared with spices, tomatoes, sweet peppers and in this case — also chickpeas. Simple, yet delicious.
What is Egyptian moussaka (Mesaka’a)
Egyptian moussaka (mesa’ah) is a close cousin of the more common Mediterranean moussaka. Mesaka’a is made of layers of fried or roasted eggplants, a mix of sweet and spicy peppers, and is delicious layer of richly spiced tomato sauce. It’s a simple dish that varies from family to family and it can be made with or without ground meat. It’s also one of those dishes that gets better with time, making it a great make ahead dish that stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Vegan Mesaka’a ala Elle
In this completely vegan version, spices are plenty, spicy pepper is replaced with chili spice, smoked paprika adds a little extra depth, almonds for a little extra crunch and chickpeas make this dish hearty enough to be enjoyed as a main, even on its own.
How to serve Eggplant Mesaka’a
You can serve this eggplant with chickpeas in tomato sauce dish as a main dish or appetiser as part of a mezze. Simply sprinkle it with a little fresh parley and serve warm, at room temperature or even cold. You can enjoy it on it’s own, with rice, or your favourite flatbread and perhaps a side salad.
How to adapt this recipe
Dishes like this are easy to adapt with the simple changes. You can make the flavours bolder by adding more spices, more garlic, even increasing the heat. Here are a few ideas:
- You could add a little red pepper paste (biber salcasi) or make your own by roasting red bell peppers, peeling them, and pureeing them with a little olive oil and a dash of cayenne.
- Or how about adding a little harissa spice mix or paste for extra spice and depthness of flavour.
- Of course, you could add ground beef for a non-vegan version. Simply fry it up with the onions.
- Keep things vegan and trade out chickpeas for cooked green lentils. Or skip the legumes altogether.
- In summer, you can trade out canned tomatoes for fresh. Simply add 500g very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped.
- Add some extra tomato richness and add some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Try grilling or frying the eggplant instead of roasting it.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Moroccan White Bean Stew (Loubia)
- Lamb Curry with Chickpeas & Tomatoes
- Moroccan Spiced Lentil Pie with Sweet Potato
- Middle Eastern Style Roasted Potatoes
- Moroccan-Spiced Roast Vegetables and Chickpeas with Bulgur
Vegan Egyptian Eggplant Moussaka (Mesaka’a)
- 3 medium eggplants, sliced in ca. 2,5 cm thick rounds (800 g)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2-3 small yellow onions, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers or pointed red peppers, chopped
- 2,5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 /2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- pinch of chili flakes (optional)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 x 400 g can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth (alternatively chicken broth)
- a handful toasted and chopped or flaked almonds (optional)
- Flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Preheat the oven at 400°F / 200°C (180° fan-assisted) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Brush both side of the eggplant slices with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until slightly shrivelled and lightly browned in the center.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and peppers until the onion is translucent and pepper softened (about 10 minutes).
Stir in the tomato paste and spices (cinnamon, paprika, cumin, thyme, chilli powder, chili flakes). Cook until the tomato paste darkens slightly in colour (2 minutes).
Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
To assemble the mesaka’a, arrange half the roasted eggplant in the bottom of a 3 litre baking dish (I use a 28cm round Cazuela), followed by half the sauce. Sprinkle over the almonds, then layer on the remaining eggplant slices and sauce.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, then continue baking for an additional 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with on it’s own or with choice of sides. Enjoy!
- This dish can be enjoyed served warm, at room temperature or even cold.
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