You’ve been on the holiday, worn the tee-shirts, read the brochures, and eaten the meals. Now it’s time to impress your friends and family by cooking it yourself. Few people are likely to argue that Moussaka is probably one of Cyprus’s most famous dishes and if you haven’t tried it yourself you have missed a really tasty dinner treat.
OK, so you didn’t come to Cyprus to cook but it won’t hurt to try your hand at preparing and serving at least one of the island’s specialities. If you are going to be serving it up in its native setting (here on the Island) you really are in luck because virtually all of the ingredients are fresh and locally grown. Perhaps that explains why Moussaka has established itself as the number one Cypriot meal when eating at home or dining out.
Shopping for ingredients
Virtually all of the supermarkets on the island carry a huge range of local fresh produce from tasty Cyprus potatoes and eggplants (aubergines) to herbs and vegetables. If you are driving around the villages you may see some of the many pavement vendors that set up at the side of the road with a pickup truck load of vegetables. With a bit of friendly bartering, you may even be able to save yourself a few euros on the cost of your first Cyprus Moussaka and put a little into the pocket of a local at the same time.
It would be even more useful if you knew what ingredients you needed too, so here you go, below is what you should get together to prepare and cook a reasonable size Moussaka to feed a small family and it includes:
- 6 medium-sized eggplants (aubergines)
- Oil (for frying)
- 750g of lamb or beef mince
- 2 red onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- Tomato puree
- Salt and pepper
- Red wine
- Bay leaf and cinnamon
- Olive oil
- Milk and butter
- 2 eggs
- 100g of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri
Holding your Moussaka together
One of the features of a classic Cypriot Moussaka is that it is held together by a creamy Béchamel sauce and so you will need to knock that up first. If it sounds easy, that’s because it is. Simply add 900ml of milk to 120g of butter and the same amount of flour to 2 egg yolks and a pinch of nutmeg and the 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri. Constantly whisk the mixture while gently heating it over a medium heat until it attains a creamy consistency and then, stir in some grated cheese.
Preparing the main ingredients
Thinly slice and shallow fry the eggplants before placing the first layer into the bottom of an ovenproof dish and save the remainder to add more layers as needed later. Next, you need to prepare the main ingredients which involve finely chopped onion and the mince being pan fried with the garlic over a medium heat. Adding the chopped tinned tomatoes and the remaining ingredients stir it all together with a wooden spoon and add the red wine. After cooking in a covered pan for about 30 minutes most of the fluid should have evaporated.
Putting it all together
After pouring a layer of the main meat sauce mixture over the eggplants it is simply a matter of repeating the process with more layers of fried eggplant before finally adding the warm Béchamel sauce to the top layer before smoothing it out. A sprinkling of grated cheese and about an hour in the oven at 190C should finish it off nicely and you will be a local Cypriot cooking hero by the time you serve it up with a nice fresh Greek Feta Salad.
See! It’s as easy as that (when you know what you’re doing) and if at first you don’t succeed just give the whole thing a miss and pop down to the nearest traditional Cypriot restaurant and order one of theirs.
For friendly and helpful advice concerning places to visit in Cyprus, or to book your holiday there, please contact us at Cyprus Sun Holiday Rentals, or call us on 00 357 2383 1194.