…is one of the more known and associated with Greece dishes. Based on a traditional Arabic dish called Maghmuma , cooked as early as the 10th century , though the bechamel sauce topping was added in the 1920s by Greek chef and culinary legend Nikos Tselementes in order to modernise the dish and make it fitter for European tastes! It is a labour of love as it has many elements coming together and can be time consuming, BUT totally worth it !! In my version the bottom layer consists of potatoes , but you can just use aubergines throughout.
To serve 8 /For the vegetables : cut 4 large potatoes and 3 aubergines into medium thickness slices and fry in sunflower oil. Put them on kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil, and lightly season with s+p and dried oregano .
For the mince: Sautée 2 finely chopped onions and 1kg of minced meat (beef or lamb) in a couple of tbsp of olive oil , until the meat browns . Then add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, 2 crushed beef stock cubes, s+p and oregano . Cook for 25-30 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced . Very important to end up with a relatively dry mix .
For the bechamel sauce:
On medium heat melt 100gr of butter in a pan and then mix with 100gr of plain flour. Add a litre of milk in small batches , whisking continuously to avoid lumps forming and to also avoid the sauce from catching and burning at the bottom of the pan . When the sauce starts to thicken , take off the heat and add salt, pepper , a pinch of nutmeg and 100gr of hard cheese ( Parmesan , Gruyere) . Keep whisking to help bring the temperature of the sauce down and then stir in 3 egg yolks.
To assemble : in a baking dish , lay the potatoes at the base , distribute evenly half of the mince mixture , then lay the aubergines , then the remainder of the mince and top up with the béchamel sauce . Grate a bit more cheese on top and bake in 180°C (fan assisted) for 35-40 minutes.
It is good to let the food sit for as much as possible so that the layers firm up and you can see them clearly when serving, but in my house it is not an option , so I apologise for the photo of slapped food on a plate!!