Vegan Egyptian Moussaka (Mesa’ah)

Vegan Egyptian moussaka or Mesa'ah is the streamlined cousin of the more well known Mediterranean moussaka, here, made without meat or bechamel sauce, yet so incredible delicious!
egyptian moussaka, baked aubergine slices in tomato sauce in square glass dish
Egyptian Moussaka, Mesa’ah

This Vegan Egyptian Moussaka, or Mesa’ah, is perfect for vegetarians, vegans or for those of you who practise a low protein or low carb lifestyle.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is Vegan Egyptian Moussaka?

Egyptian Moussaka is a close cousin of the more common Mediterranean moussaka. It can be made with meat or without, with the former often called moussaka bel bechamel in Egypt, referring to its lack of bechamel sauce.

I had a request not too long ago from one of my readers for the Egyptian Moussaka recipe minus the meat. So here we are, Vegan Egyptian Moussaka, or Vegan Mesa’ah.

So today’s recipe is a casserole of aubergine (eggplant) layers covered in tomato sauce and either baked in the oven or cooked on the stove.

It’s probably one of my favourite ways of eating eggplants, it’s full of all the rich moussaka tomato flavours but without cheese, perfect for my 4 cheese hating, vegetarian children. Sometimes I wonder where I went wrong. While I love vegetables, I love meat and boy, do I love cheese!

mesa'ah, baked aubergine slices in tomato sauce in square glass dish
Layers of yummy goodness!

Egyptian Moussaka Recipe

It’s a very, very easy recipe to cook, with slight variations depending on the family and cook. As with many eggplant recipes, we prepare the eggplants separately before continuing with the second step. This is what we’ll be doing:

  1. Fry, air fry or bake the aubergine slices. I’ll give you all 3 options.
  2. Make the tomato sauce.
  3. Mix the 2 together and cook for 20 – 30 minutes more.

Step number 3 can be done on the stove or, my preferred way, baked in the oven. When done on the stove, you essentially just layer the aubergine slices in the saucepan and continue simmering.

In the oven, we layer the eggplant slices and tomato sauce and bake, like when making Greek moussaka or lasagne.

a plate of fried eggplant slices (aubergine slices)
practically the same result

Ingredients

I shan’t go through every single ingredient in the recipe. Let’s just take a look at the more pertinent ones.

Aubergines (Eggplants)

You can use any type of eggplants you like, round, long, small, large. You could even use non purple varieties if you happen to have lots lying around.

I’ve given you a rough weight in the recipe below, and all you need to ensure is that you have a total of about the same weight. Give or take, slightly more or less, really doesn’t matter.

Sundried Tomato Paste

Tomatoes

This is probably where the biggest difference may lie. Some cooks prefer the use of fresh tomatoes, which in the height of summer, makes perfect sense.

Some prefer to use passata-type tomato sauce, for a smoother base.

I prefer using canned chopped for all tomato based recipes, as you might know. I feel they have a stronger and more rounded flavour than fresh tomatoes which comes through in the finished product. It certainly makes a difference in our simple vegan Egyptian moussaka. But you can do what you like here.

Another thing that I also love using in most tomato heavy recipes, is sundried tomato paste. It adds a wonderful depth of flavour that cannot be replicated with just a regular concentrated tomato paste. Sun drying tomatoes increases the flavour of any ingredient, it’s the same with tomatoes.

So if you can get your hands on it, great, if not, just proceed with regular concentrated tomato paste. Wondering where to buy sundried tomato paste? Wherever you find Italian products, that’s where it’ll be.

Spices

I’m keeping it simple, with just a small amount of cumin and regular paprika (not smoked). Some people add a little turmeric and even coriander.

You can also use smoked paprika if you like, for that something extra. I like to keep this vegan Egyptian moussaka pretty simple in flavour, in keeping with the spirit of the dish.

mesa'ah, aubergine slices in tomato sauce with pita on green plate
all you need is some bread

How to serve this Vegan Moussaka?

This is completely up to you, as there are so many options.

You can serve it as a starter with a little bread on the side. Not too much, as starters don’t want to fill people up, do they?

You could also serve it as a simple vegan main, again with some bread, and perhaps a side salad.

Our vegan Egyptian Moussaka will also be perfectly at home on the mezze or barbecue table as part of a bigger spread with the usual suspects (or something different). Here are some examples, and then let’s get our aprons on!

Borani Laboo
Borani Laboo is a dreamy, creamy Persian recipe of beetroot in yoghurt. It can be eaten as a dip or a condiment in a meal, much like raita.
Check out this recipe
pink yoghurt with beetroot in white bowl with blue paisley tablecloth
Fried Gefilte Fish
Fried Gefilte Fish seem to be a singularly British Jewish food, made with minced fish, onions and spices and fried for a lovely crisp on the outside, soft on the inside bite.
Check out this recipe
Fish balls with pink sauce
Matbucha
Matbucha or Salade Cuite, is a cooked salad of tomatoes and capsicums (peppers) that originally came from the Moroccan Jewish community.
Check out this recipe
thick, red tomato sauce (matbucha) on ethnic plate with pita slices on the side

If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating! Shukran!

If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor.

Lin xx

Vegan Egyptian Moussaka (Mesa’ah)

Vegan Egyptian moussaka or Mesa'ah is the streamlined cousin of the more well known Mediterranean moussaka, here, made without meat or bechamel sauce, yet so incredible delicious!
5 from 10 votes
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Course: Appetiser, Mezze
Cuisine: Egyptian
Keyword: vegan, vegan moussaka, vegetarian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 as a starter or 2 as a main
Calories: 185kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Equipment

  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 large plate
  • kitchen paper
  • frying pan or saucepan
  • baking dish
  • air fryer or oven
  • ladles and spoons as needed

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines (eggplants) about 500-600g (1.1-1.3 lb)
  • 3 Tbsp EV olive oil
  • 250 ml vegetable oil only if frying the eggplant slices

Tomato Sauce

  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 2 mild green chillies
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes (this is 1 large can in the UK)
  • 1 Tbsp sundried tomato paste or concentrated tomato paste
  • 125 ml water
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp white sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Pre cook the Aubergines

  • Slice the eggplants in rounds about 1 cm (½ inch) wide. I don't bother salting eggplants these days as many modern varieties are not bitter.

Frying in Oil

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saucepan on medium heat. Fry the eggplants in a single layer for 5 minutes, flipping halfway through.
    If your pan isn't big enough, do this in batches.
  • When done, take them out and place on a plate double lined with kitchen paper.

In the Oven

  • Preheat the oven to 200° (400°F).
    Place the eggplants in a large bowl. Pour about 1 tsp of the olive oil onto your hands, rub your hands together, then gently rub these oily hands all over the slices. Be quick as eggplants absorb oil like crazy. Add a little more oil to your hands if necessary.
    This, to me, is the best way to rub oil on eggplant slices.
  • Place the oiled aubergine slices on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
    Line your baking sheet with foil if it's not non stick.
    Get the tomato sauce started while waiting.
    When done, take them out of the oven and set aside. No need to move to a plate.

In an Air Fryer

  • Preheat the air fryer to 200° (400°F) for 5 minutes.
    Place your eggplant slices in the air fryer basket/container and fry for 10 – 12 minutes. No need to do this in a single layer.
    Halfway through, just flip the basket like you would a frying pan to flip the eggplant slices. No need to do them individually. This is how I cook everything in the air fryer.
    Get the tomato sauce started while waiting.
    When done, take them out of the oven and set aside. No need to move to a plate.

Tomato Sauce

  • Finely chop the garlic.
    Slice the red capsicum into strips, losing the seeds.
    Halve the green chilli and lose the seeds.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and fry the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, water and red capsicum and bring to a simmer. Add the cumin, paprika, salt and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes.
    At the end of cooking time, check seasoning and add more salt if you want. And even more cumin or paprika. The sauce, at this point, wants to be strongly flavoured, as we'll be adding the bland aubergines in and cooking further.

Baking the Moussaka

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
    Get a square baking dish measuring about 20cm x 20 cm (8" x 8") or something similar, square or not. We'll be layering our tomato sauce and eggplant slices. Pour a ladle of the tomato sauce into the dish, covering the base completely.
  • Follow this with a layer of aubergine slices. Top with more tomato sauce. Then another layer of aubergines, finishing up with a layer of tomato sauce.
  • Tuck the green chilli slices in anywhere you like and bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the top is slightly brown.
  • Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then serve as discussed above.

On the Stove

  • Take half the sauce out, then add the eggplants slices to your saucepan.
  • Gently, pour the sauce back over the eggplants, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Notes

Cooking time includes the sauce being started while the eggplants are cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 770mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
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