Potato Moussaka is a great comfort food which you can make at home with just few simple ingredients. It is a very delicious dish, loved by generations of people. One of the easiest and simple foods that is also kids’ favourite!
What is the origin of this dish
Moussaka is typical for the Balkans and the Middle East countries. Even though the Greek kind is the most famous around the world, it is considered that the dish has Arab origins.
Moussaka is also one of the favourite meals of Bulgarians. The typical kind here is with potatoes but there are also others: with added zucchini or eggplant. There is no family in the country that doesn’t cook it and each one has their own way of making moussaka. The current recipe is the one that my mother and my grandmother have cooked during the years and the one I grew up with: very simple, easy and tasty.
What do you need for this recipe
In summary, you need potatoes, minced meat, onions, tomatoes and spices. You also need yogurt and eggs to make the top layer. Some of the ingredients can have different variations: the minced meat can be beef or pork or a mix of the two and the tomatoes can be fresh or canned.
As for the spices, parsley and black pepper are the two mandatory ones. Some people like to add also oregano or savory, which is a very common spice in Bulgaria but I prefer my moussaka as plain as possible. I discovered that a teaspoon of garlic powder works very well to enhance its taste. However this is my own addition and is not part of the classic dish.
🥣 Recipe tips
Probably the most challenging part of the Simple Potato Moussaka is to peel and dice the potatoes. When you are done with this, it is quite an easy job to follow the recipe.
If you are using fresh tomatoes, the best is to grate them, removing the skin. That will ensure they are all well distributed around the dish. You can also use tomato puree or canned peeled tomatoes: in this case make sure you cut them finely before adding them to the meat.
Before putting the layered moussaka in the oven, don’t forget to add water in the pan! This is very important as without water the potatoes will get burned before being cooked.
The top layer is a very special moment as here you can have so many variations too: classic béchamel, eggs with milk and baking soda or the simple yogurt and eggs mixture which I know from my mom. The truth is that many people, especially kids, don’t enjoy this layer if it is too fluffy and creamy. If you prepare it with just yogurt and eggs, it will become almost like a crust, which is the lighter and less pretentious option.
Can you freeze this dish
You can! It is a perfect recipe for freezing. Just portion it and pack in individual containers. It will take some time to thaw properly so the best is if you remove it from the freezer on the night before and place it in the fridge. It will be ready for lunch or dinner on the next day.
I am sure that you will love this Simple Potato Moussaka once you try it! Let me know in the comments what you think of this recipe! If you made it, don’t hesitate to share your experience!
Simple Potato Moussaka
- 1 lb minced meat (see notes)
- 2 lb potatoes
- 2 large tomatoes or a 14 oz/ 400 ml canned tomatoes (see notes)
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- fresh parsley to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder optional
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1,5 teaspoons salt or to taste
- Peel the potatoes and chop them into 2/3 inch pieces. Set aside.
- If using fresh tomatoes, grate them, removing the peel. If using canned peeled tomatoes, chop them into small pieces.
- In a large pan heat the oil and cook the onion until translucent. Add the minced meat and stir, until it gets all browned and no pink parts remain.
- Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add also salt and pepper and any other spices if using. Cook for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Add the chopped parsley and stir.
- Spread half of the diced potatoes on the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch pan (or similar). Spread the cooked meat on top. Cover with a second layer of potatoes.
- Add about 1 cup water or enough to reach the top layer of potatoes.
- Bake the moussaka at 400 degrees F/ 220 degrees C for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes on top are baked.
- In the meantime whisk together the yogurt and eggs until smooth. Add a bit of salt and stir again.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spread the yogurt mixture evenly on top. Bake for another 10-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meat: the best is to use equal proportions of beef and pork meat. Alternatively you can also use just one kind.
- Tomatoes: You can also use tomato puree, passata, diced tomatoes and any other form of tomatoes without skin.
- Spices: some people like to to add to their moussaka dried savory (very typical Bulgarian spice) or dried spearmint (mentha spicata) which are giving a very particular local taste to the dish. I wouldn’t add them myself since I don’t normally use these herbs in my kitchen but in case you are interested, you may want to try them.
- Top layer: if you prefer it fluffier, you can add 1-2 tbsp all purpose flour and a pinch of soda bicarbonate. You can also make a classic béchamel.