Lebanese cuisine is renowned for its unique blend of flavors, textures, and ingredients. This Lebanese Moussaka aka Maghmour, features the flavors and textures of this beautiful cuisine. Hearty, healthy, and delicious, this naturally vegan stew will become a regular in your kitchen.
What is Lebanese Moussaka or Maghmour?
The Greek version of Moussaka and the Lebanese version have some similarities, but the cooking method, flavors, and presentation of the dish are quite different.
Lebanese Moussaka is a naturally vegan dish that features fried or roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and chickpeas. These ingredients are simmered to create a hearty stew seasoned with dried mint, and cinnamon.
Maghmour is traditionally served at room temperature or cold (the Arabic word for Moussaka means cold), but we tried this dish while warm and it was fantastic also!
Our Lebanese Moussaka is:
- A Middle Easter recipe
- Easy to make
- A Main dish
- Perfect to enjoy during Spring and Summer
How to make the best Maghmour at home
Eggplants. Choose medium to large eggplants. Make sure the vegetables are firm and have no soft spots when buying them. To ensure that the eggplants are fresh, check for a green calyx (top part). You can also make this recipe using Japanese eggplants. Adjust the cooking times as they are smaller and will cook faster.
Fresh tomatoes. Traditionally, Maghmour is made with fresh tomatoes. You can optionally use canned tomatoes if fresh tomatoes are not juicy. Other options are using passata or homemade or jarred tomato sauce.
Chickpeas. You can use canned chickpeas or tinned chickpeas by simply adding them to the stew, or dry chickpeas, soaking them in fresh water overnight, and pressure cooking the chickpeas until tender before adding them to the Maghmour. For this recipe, we use canned chickpeas.
Tomato paste. This ingredient is optional. We like adding some tomato paste or tomato puree to add that umami note to the dish. As well, tomato paste enhances the flavor of the fresh or canned tomatoes.
Onion and garlic. Yellow onion and fresh garlic are the base of this Lebanese Moussaka. You can use white onions, red onions, or shallots.
Cinnamon. Our Maghmour recipe includes cinnamon powder as it enhances the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. You can also use a cinnamon stick.
Dried mint. This is the dried herb used to give a unique flavor to this Lebanese delight. You can also, use fresh mint to garnish the dish as we do, but we recommend adding some dried mint also. You may not be able to get dried mint in your regular grocery store, but you should be able to find it in most health food shops or large supermarkets.
Olive oil. For this recipe, we bake the eggplant. To do this, we first coat the eggplant pieces in olive oil.
Step-by-Step Method for Lebanese Moussaka
- Wash, peel, and cut the eggplants. For Maghmour, we recommend peeling the eggplant leaving some lines of skin. This way, the eggplant will keep its shape while cooking, and combining with the rest of the stew ingredients. Cut the eggplant into big chunks.
- Place the eggplant pieces in a baking dish or baking tray, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil, combine making sure all the pieces are well coated, and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 200C (400F). Before taking it out, make sure the eggplant has softened and is fork-tender.
- Heat some olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion finely chopped, and cook for a few minutes until the color starts to change. Add the garlic, and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, cinnamon powder, and chopped tomatoes. Bring the heat to medium-low heat, stir well, and cook for at least 10 minutes. For this part, cover the pan with a lid, and make sure you add a little water from time to time so the tomatoes don't stick to the pan and burn.
- Once the fresh tomatoes are cooked and fragrant, add the cooked eggplant, and chickpeas. At this point, add a little water, to make sure you get the right stew consistency.
- Add the dried mint, combine well, and serve. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Variations to our Lebanese Moussaka
- Fry the eggplant. If you want to keep this Eastern Mediterranean recipe traditional, you can fry the eggplant. We prefer baking it, as it absorbs less oil than fried eggplants and the whole dish will be healthier. But if you decide to fry the eggplant, deep fry it in hot oil using a frying pan, and then leave it on a paper towel to release the excess oil before adding it to the stew.
- Steam the eggplant. You can also steam the eggplant for this recipe. You can follow this method that we use for our Chinese Garlic Eggplant, to get your aubergine beautifully cooked using a steamer.
- Make it spicy. You can add harissa paste, chili flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, or chili oil to make this eggplant and chickpea stew spicy.
- Use canned tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are the best option for this aubergine stew, especially during Summer when you can find juicy and ripe tomatoes that are sweet. Otherwise, canned tomatoes are a great option!
Maghmour is a hearty main dish perfect to enjoy at room temperature during Summer, or warm during Winter months.
Garnish the dish with some fresh mint or parsley, lemon zest to add some acidity, and toasted pine nuts to give a great texture.
If you like tahini sauce, you can make a quick tahini sauce like the one we use for our Tahini Eggplant, and drizzle some over the dish before serving. Alternatively, you can add a drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, or some fresh lemon juice before serving.
You could also, serve this Lebanese Eggplant Moussaka as a side dish, together with other Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus, roasted sweet potatoes, pita bread, falafels, or a fresh salad.
Store and Reheat Maghmour
If you have some leftovers of this middle eastern moussaka, you can store them in the fridge using an airtight container. If you prefer this dish served at room temperature, take it out of the fridge one or two hours before serving it again.
You can also, reheat the leftovers using the microwave to enjoy the Lebanese Moussaka warm.
FAQ and Tips
How is Maghmour different from Greek Moussaka?
Unlike the Greek Moussaka, which typically includes layers of meat and béchamel sauce, Lebanese Maghmour is a vegetarian dish with a base of eggplants, tomatoes, and chickpeas. It is lighter and features distinct Middle Eastern flavors. I guess you could say Maghmour is a Vegan Eggplant Stew.
Can I prepare Maghmour in advance?
Yes, Maghmour can be prepared in advance and reheated. Many people find that the flavors develop even more after sitting for a day or two in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze Maghmour?
Yes, Maghmour freezes well. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
To cook the eggplant, Can I use the Air Fryer?
You can cook the eggplants using the Air Fryer. It will take around 20 minutes for the eggplants to fully cook.
Lebanese Moussaka (Maghmour)
- 2 eggplant
- 1 yellow onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 3 fresh tomatoes
- 1-2 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup water adjust while cooking
- 1 cup chickpeas
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon dried mint
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the over to 200C (400F)
- Wash, peel, and cut the eggplants. Peel the eggplants leaving some lines of skin. This way, the eggplant will keep its shape while cooking, and when stirred with the rest of the stew ingredients. Cut the eggplant into big chunks.
- Place the eggplant pieces in a baking tray, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil, and combine making sure all the pieces are well coated.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 200C (400F). Before taking it out, make sure the eggplant has softened and is fork-tender.
- Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the tomatoes, if you are using fresh tomatoes.
- Heat some olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion finely chopped, and cook for a few minutes until the color starts to change.
- Add the garlic, and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, cinnamon powder, and fresh tomatoes. Bring the heat to medium-low, stir well, cover with a lid, and cook for at least 10 minutes.
- Make sure you add a little water from time to time so the tomatoes don't stick to the pan and burn.
- Once the fresh tomatoes are cooked and fragrant, add the cooked eggplant, and chickpeas.
- Add a little water, to make sure you get the right stew consistency.
- Add the dried mint and combine well.
- Garnish with fresh mint and lemon zest and serve.