Moussaka is a popular dish that you can find in the Mediterranean cuisine, or Balkans. You will probably find it in every Greek restaurant as it is known especially in United States as being part of the Greek Cuisine and nothing more. However, historically, the Moussaka was found also in every country that was part or influenced by the Ottoman Empire.
Even if Romania was never part of the big empire, there are many ottoman influences in the Romanian cuisine. Therefore, we do have a version of this dish that is very popular and the same as in Greece, it is served warm.
The Moussaka is made with layers of vegetables, usually eggplant or potatoes and minced meat. In Greece they use minced lamb. In Romania we use minced pork or beef, or a mixture of these two meats. Some vegetarian versions are made with mushrooms instead of meat. There are also versions out there using pasta instead of potatoes or eggplant.
My version is made with potatoes and ground beef. You can use the same recipe but replace the potatoes with eggplant or zucchini. Play with the ingredients and see what you like more. I like all versions the same. The Moussaka or the “Musaca”, how we call it in Romania, the one that I am going to show you next, uses boiled potatoes.
Some Romanians fry the potatoes first before they use them in the recipe. No matter how you make it, the potatoes need to be cooked before you assemble the Moussaka.
If you use boiled potatoes:
Clean well the potatoes, then place them with the skin on in a pot and boil them with water enough to cover them. They are ready when a fork goes through them. Discard the water and let the potatoes cool until you can handle them. Remove the skin and slice them.
If you use fried potatoes:
Clean and peel the potatoes, then slice them. Fry them in one layer, in batches, in a pan with lots of oil. Remove the fried potatoes from the pan and place them on a tray covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Then, continue with the recipe.
The layers of potatoes, flavorful ground meat, cheese and sour cream on top make this dish a truly comforting food to enjoy any time of the year. With a glass of wine. Red. Or white. Or whatever.
It is relatively easy to put together and makes awesome leftovers for a next day lunch or dinner. Perfect for a family! Enjoy!
If you make the recipe, share it with the hashtag #thebossykitchen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so we can all see what you’re cooking!
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- 8-9 boiled medium potatoes with the skin on
- 1½ pound ground beef or pork(or a mixture of it)
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 can(14.5oz) diced tomatoes or tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing the meat
- a handful of chopped parsley
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour or bread crumbs to cover the bottom of the baking tray
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Wash the skin of potatoes really well using a kitchen brush.
- In a big pot place the potatoes and enough water to cover them. Boil the potatoes until tender(or a fork goes through them).
- When the potatoes are boiled remove the pot from the stove, drain the water and set the potatoes aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are cooling, brown the ground meat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Add chopped onion, salt, pepper and paprika, mix well and continue to brown the meat and the onions together.
- When the meat is ready, add the crushed/diced tomatoes or the can of tomato sauce.
- Mix well and cook on medium heat for few minutes until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is formed.
- Add the chopped parsley and mix well.
- Separately, beat the eggs and mix them with the sour cream and the shredded cheese.
- Remove the skin of the potatoes and discard them. Slice the potatoes.
- Butter and flour/bread crumbs an 8x8 inches baking dish.
- Place slices of potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of meat mixture.
- Add another layer of sliced potatoes, another layer of meat and repeat until you finish all ingredients.
- The last layer should be potatoes.
- Beat the eggs, mix them with sour cream and cheese. Add a little bit of salt to your taste. Pour this mixture over the last layer of potatoes.
- Bake in the oven at 350F for about an hour or until golden brown on top.
- Cut in squares and serve warm topped with sour cream.