Musaqa’a: Aubergine, chickpea and tomato bake.

Musaqaa

FalastinThis is one of over 110 mouth-watering recipes from Falastin, a ground-breaking new Middle Eastern cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. They travelled throughout Palestine, Sami’s homeland, enjoying the warm hospitality of Palestinian people, listening to their stories, and collecting both traditional and contemporary recipes. Once back in London the recipes were reworked in the Ottolenghi test kitchen to make them more easily doable.

Because of the pandemic we will not be able to hop on a plane to Palestine in the foreseeable future. But with these two passionate and knowledgeable guides we can go on a great culinary journey and cook up a storm of new recipes in our kitchens at home.

MusaqaaMusaqa’a. Aubergine, chickpea and tomato bake.

Echoes of the Greek dish moussaka are correctly heard here, both in the name and the feel of the dish. It’s a vegetarian take on the hearty, humble, healthy and completely delicious traybake. It works well either as a veggie main or as a side with all sorts of things: piled into a jacket potato, for example, or served alongside some grilled meat, fish or tofu. It’s just the sort of dish you want to have in the fridge ready to greet you after a day out at work. It’s also lovely at room temperature, so it’s great to pile into the Tupperware for an on-the-go lunch.

Getting ahead: You can make and bake this in advance: it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days, ready to be warmed through when needed.

Serves four as a main or six as a side

Ingredients

  • 5 medium aubergines (1.25kg)
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (160g)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp tomato purée
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks (200g)
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (240g)
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 15g coriander, roughly chopped, plus 5g extra to serve
  • 4 plum tomatoes, trimmed and sliced into 1½cm-thick rounds (350g)
  • Salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of aubergine skin from top to
  3. bottom, leaving the aubergines with alternating strips of black skin and white flesh, like a zebra. Cut widthways into round slices, 2cm thick, and place in a large bowl.
  4. Mix well with 75ml of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and spread out on two large parchment-lined baking trays.
  5. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until completely softened and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C fan.
  7. While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat.
  8. Add the onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.
  9. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée and cook for another minute, or until fragrant.
  10. Add the peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, sugar, 200ml of water, 1¼ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, or until the peppers have cooked through. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat.
  12. Spread out half the plum tomatoes and half the roasted aubergines on the base of a large baking dish, about 20 x 30cm.
  13. Top with the chickpea mixture, then layer with the remaining tomatoes and aubergines.
  14. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  15. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the tomatoes have completely softened.
  16. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. Top with the remaining coriander and serve either warm or at room temperature.

This recipe comes from FALASTIN: A Cookbook, By Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. Ebury Press. RRP $60. Photography by Jenny Zarins.

Reviews by Lyn Potter

Parent and grandparent, Avid traveler, writer & passionate home cook

Read more by Lyn here.