Lebanese eggplant moussaka, also known as maghmour, is an eggplant lover's dream on a warm day (or any day). Tender, roasted eggplants are cooked in a tomato based sauce with tons of onion, garlic, and chickpeas to create a flavorful meal you'll want to devour. This dish is so easy to make and is naturally vegan. You need to try it!
Moussaka is an arabic word that means "cold" and not surprisingly, this dish is traditionally enjoyed cold on a hot summer day. But you can also eat it warm or, my personal favorite, at room temperature.
Pita bread is essential to mop up all that saucy goodness, but crusty sourdough is delicious with it too.
We usually eat eggplant moussaka as a meal on its own with bread, but you can absolutely serve it with some rice with toasted vermicelli.
It's also a great vegan appetizer or side dish if you're entertaining. How about a mezze with eggplant moussaka crostini?
- Eggplants: Traditionally, the small, long variety referred to as Italian eggplants is used, but they are more difficult to find. Globe or American eggplants (in the above photo) work great as well.
- Olive oil: It adds flavor to both the eggplants and tomato sauce.
- Onion and garlic: They are sliced and sautéed to build flavor in the sauce.
- Tomatoes: They add texture and freshness to the sauce.
- Chickpeas: They are a protein source and add texture and flavor.
- Tomato sauce: It adds the needed moisture and flavor to cook the eggplants in.
First, peel the eggplants in a zebra pattern, basically alternating about one inch sections that are peeled and not peeled.
Quarter them lengthwise, then chop them into half-inch quarter moons or one inch cubes and place them in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
Drizzle the chopped eggplants with olive oil, season them with salt, then roast them in an oven preheated to 425°F for about 25 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown, then set them aside.
Don't overcrowd the eggplants so they can get nice and caramelized. Roast them in batches if needed.
While the eggplants are roasting, start preparing the sauce.
Slice the the onion and garlic cloves and sautée them in a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and stir.
Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the cooked chickpeas and toss together for one minute.
Add the diced fresh tomatoes and cook for another minute.
Now add the tomato sauce, water, salt, and fresh cracked black pepper. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer.
Once the tomato sauce is simmering, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
Carefully pour all of the sauce over the roasted eggplants in the same baking dish they're in. Spread the mixture evenly and gently stir to get the sauce in between the eggplants.
Bake the moussaka in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. You don't want the sauce to reduce too much so the dish doesn't dry out.
Feel free to stir in more water as needed and continue baking until it simmers.
Let the moussaka cool to room temperature then garnish it with lots of fresh parsley. You can chill it before eating or enjoy it while it's still warm - it's delicious either way!
See that sauce up there? It is packed with flavor so grab some bread and don't let it go to waste!
Like many stews, Lebanese eggplant moussaka is one of those dishes that gets better the next day because the eggplants have time to soak up all that flavor in the sauce.
Make a big batch and enjoy it all week as a light, vegetarian lunch when you're too busy to cook. It's so delicious and makes the perfect comforting meal on a hot day!
Substitutions and Variations
Lebanese moussaka is naturally vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. This baked version is so healthy and flavor packed, but below are some additional options.
- Spices - Feel free to add Middle Eastern spices such as cinnamon, cumin, or aleppo pepper to taste.
- Fried eggplants - Traditionally, this dish is made with fried eggplants. Although delicious, it makes it heavier and more messy to prepare. I have found that cooking the eggplants in the air fryer or oven result in an equally delicious moussaka without all the added oil. But feel free to fry them if you prefer!
- Chickpeas - You can use dry chickpeas instead of canned. You'll have to soak them overnight and boil them until tender before preparing this recipe. If you do that, you can use the chickpea broth instead of water when making the tomato sauce.
- Meat - This dish is meatless and is meant to be a light meal eaten cold, but if you'd like you can add cooked beef or lamb (ground or cubed) to the tomato sauce if desired and serve it hot over rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is debatable. Some people prefer to do so, claiming that salting the eggplants for one hour draws out the bitter liquid. In my experience, I have not noticed a difference and have never had bitter eggplants in all the dishes I've prepared. Personally, I find it to be an unnecessary step and a waste of one hour.
It depends. Young eggplants have more tender skin, while older, larger eggplants have tougher skin. If you are bothered by the skin, peel them in a zebra stripes pattern. Having some peel helps the eggplant chunks to hold their shape and not disintegrate.
Yes you can, and many people do that. But the oven method is how my mom makes it, mainly because she uses the smaller eggplants which are kept whole and layered with the sauce in a baking dish. Even if not using whole Italian eggplants, I like to finish it in the oven because it allows the eggplants to gently cook in the sauce without worrying about them disintegrating due to stirring over direct heat. Either way you'll have the same amount of dishes to wash, so it's up to you.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
If you’ve tried making this Lebanese Eggplant Moussaka (Maghmour) recipe or any other recipe on Forks & Foliage, then please don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I would be so happy to hear how it turned out for you. And if you took any photos or videos, please share them with me on Instagram @forksandfoliage so I can see the deliciousness you made!
Lebanese Eggplant Moussaka (Maghmour)
For the roasted eggplants:
- 2 pounds eggplants
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. Trim the eggplants and peel them in a zebra stripe pattern, then cut them into half-inch thick quarter moons or 1 inch cubes.
- Place the chopped eggplants on 9 x 13 inch baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and toss well with your hands to evenly coat them. Spread them out in one layer. Do this in batches if needed. Roast them for about 25 minutes, or until they are tender and golden brown. Set aside and drop the oven temperature to 350°F.
- While the eggplants are roasting, place a large skillet over medium heat, then add the olive oil, onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the drained chickpeas, tossing for a minute, followed by the diced tomatoes. Let them cook together for another minute.
- Add the tomato sauce, one cup of water, one teaspoon of salt, fresh cracked black pepper, then stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then taste the sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Use a spatula to loosen all the roasted eggplants and spread them evenly in the baking dish, then pour all the sauce evenly on top of them. Gently stir to get the sauce in between the eggplants, then place in the 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and thickened a bit.
- Let the moussaka cool for at least 15 minutes, then garnish with chopped parsley and serve with pita bread or crusty bread.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.