This Lebanese Moussaka, Maghmour, is a simple and delicious vegan chickpea and aubergine / eggplant stew. Rich buttery roast aubergine / eggplant in a fresh tomato sauce, with the firm bite of meaty chickpeas make this a healthy and filling dish. It is even better served cold the next day.
What Is Maghmour?
Moussaka is the Arabic word for ‘cold’ and this Lebanese moussaka is traditionally served chilled with pita bread. Although referred to as moussaka, this aubergine stew has little resemblance to the Greek version of moussaka, in fact dare I say it, but it reminds me more of the Greek bean dish gigantes plaki. Packed with cooked aubergine / eggplant and cooked chickpeas a thick, onion and garlic sauce, this vegetable stew is rich but light. Traditionally the aubergine would have been fried in a very generous amount of olive oil, but I have roasted it to reduce the amount of fat – and have included an extra trick in the recipe to reduce the fat content even more, whilst still producing soft and creamy aubergine.
Why We Love This Recipe
- This Middle Eastern aubergine recipe is a great meal prep recipe, and a lunchbox favourite.
- Delicious served warm, at room temperature, or cold.
- Vegan and gluten free.
- Healthy, full of vegetables and chickpeas. I have reduced the amount of olive oil needed to roast the aubergine by soaking it in salted water first.
- Simple to make, very forgiving – you don’t have to have lots of knife skills, the cubes of aubergine and tomato don’t need to be perfect.
- Tasty meze dish that can also be served as a main dish or appetiser / starter.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions
- Eggplant – aubergine. Select eggplants / aubergines that are heavy and firm (heavy means they are juicy inside!)
- Tomatoes – fresh tomatoes are best, but if they are not in season, use tinned / canned tomatoes.
- Onions – red or brown onion both work in this recipe.
- Chickpeas – I use tinned / canned chickpeas for convenience, but you can be more authentic and cook dried chickpeas before adding to the tomato sauce.
- Spices – warming cinnamon, ground cumin and a touch of spice from chilli powder. You can use Lebanese 7-spice if you prefer.
- Olive Oil – Use the best quality olive oil you can buy. If you don’t want to use all EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) I recommend you drizzle the cooked moussaka with it for it’s silky buttery flavour.
- Salt – Sea salt or kosher salt
How To Make This Recipe
- Mix salt with water.
- Cut the aubergine / eggplant in to cubes and place in water, stir to coat all the aubergine cubes.
- Place a plate and a weight to press the aubergine down in the salted water and leave for 30 minutes.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Drain the aubergine and pat dry, then place on the lined baking tray and mix with olive oil.
- Place in a preheated oven and roast until golden, turning halfway through.
- Whilst the eggplant is roasting, make the sauce: fry the sliced onion in olive oil.
- It is ready when soft and caramelised.
- Add the spices and crushed garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add diced tomatoes and water and simmer.
- It’s ready when thick.
- Stir through the roasted aubergine / eggplant and chickpeas, check for seasoning and serve or leave to cool.
Aubergines tend to spoil very quickly, so if you are not planning on using them in 1-2 days, you should store them in the fridge.
If you rinse canned chickpeas under cold water and drain them, you will reduce the sodium content of your dish greatly.
My Recipe Tips
- Don’t skip salting and soaking the eggplant / aubergine, it makes it soft and buttery, and means you don’t need as much oil.
- Line your baking tray with baking parchment – this will stop the eggplant from sticking to the tray and losing those lovely caramelised pieces as they get stuck on the tray.
- You can add a little more water if you want a thinner sauce in your aubergine stew – we love a thick sauce as it is easier to scoop up with pita bread.
- Crunchy chickpeas – I have tried this Lebanese moussaka recipe with both soft chickpeas – add straight to the tomato sauce from the can, and roasting the chickpeas. I like it both ways, but chickpeas with a little bite are good – to do this, dry the cooked chickpeas and add to the aubergine tray half way through cooking then bake, shaking every so often, until the chickpeas are crispy and the aubergine / eggplant is soft.
- Serve alongside some pita, flatbread or try this chapati recipe for a simple fresh bread.
- Crispy parmentier potatoes.
- Serve with bowls of garlic yogurt and sumac onions on the side – we love piling the moussaka in to a pita bread, and topping with a spoonful of yogurt and sprinkling of sumac onions, it’s one of those things that so good it’s hard to stop after just one!
- For a Lebanese inspired meal follow with a slice of this Lebanese semolina cake. Namoura
- Keep in the fridge in a covered bowl or airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Freezer – this dish will freeze for up to 2 months.
- Add meat – chicken would be a lovely addition, grill or pan fry some chicken breasts and add at the end.
- Any other vegetables, mushrooms, peppers / capsicum. Roast them half way through the aubergine / eggplant, or fry with the onions before adding the tomatoes.
- Add a pinch of dried mint to the sauce.
More Middle Eastern Recipes You Might Enjoy
Maghmour (Lebanese Moussaka)
- 2 medium aubergine / eggplant
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 120ml (½ c ) hot water
- 360ml (1½ c ) cold water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (for aubergine / eggplant)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for onions)
- 2 onions finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 large tomatoes roughyl chopped
- 420g tin (14 oz can) cooked chickpeas
- 2-4 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cut the eggplant / aubergine in to 2-3 cm (1 inch) cubes.
- In a large mixing bowl combine 1 tablespoon salt with 120ml (½ cup) hot water and stir until the salt dissolves.
- Mix in 360ml (1½ c) cold water, then add the eggplant / aubergine cubes.
- Stir to coat the eggplant, then weigh it down with a plate and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C fan / 220˚C / 392˚F convection / 428˚F.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Drain the aubergine and pat dry, then place on the lined baking tray and mix with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Place in the preheated oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the aubergine / eggplant is golden, turning halfway through.
- If you want firmer, slightly crispy chickpeas, drain and pat dry, then add to the aubergine / eggplant 10 minutes before the aubergine is due to be ready.
- Whilst the eggplant is roasting, make the sauce: fry the sliced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over a low-medium heat until soft and caramalized – around 15 minutes.
- Add the crushed garlic, cinnamon, ground cumin and chilli powder and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of water and simmer for 5-10 minutes until thick, adding a little more water if it seems to thick.
- Stir in the roasted eggplant and chickpeas (either roasted or from the can) and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Check for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed.
- Serve at room temperature or cold.
- Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, or cool completely and freeze.