• 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cubanelle pepper (or green peper), chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4-5 potatoes, cubed
  • 600 g ground meat (mix of beef and pork)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried savory
  • salt, to taste
  • water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup natural yogurt

Musaka (or moussaka) is a traditional dish in many Eastern cuisine, from the Balkans, the Mediterranean and even the Middle East. Each country has its own version and proudly presents it as being the best one. However Bulgarian musaka is very different from the worldwide known Greek, and the lesser known Turkish, moussakas: there is no eggplants nor white sauce involved.

Indeed, Bulgarian musaka is quite easy to prepare and the finished dish resembles a lot  shepherds pie. It is mainly prepared from potatoes and ground meat, that can be either separated in two distinct layers or more traditionally mixed together, and covered with a layer of an egg and yogurt custard. Of course, you can add to the meat any extra vegetables that you like, such as zucchini or mushrooms, but remember to keep it simple and traditional Bulgarian with the right spices, and no eggplant.

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Fry the finely chopped onions and the crushed garlic cloves for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the finely chopped cubanelle pepper (or a small green pepper) and carrot. Chop the potatoes in 1/2 cubes and add them to the frying pan. Fry for another 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start getting tender.
  3. Then stir in the ground meat followed by the paprika, the black pepper and the dried savory. Add a pinch of salt, mix well and fry the meat for about 5 more minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a wide baking dish. Transfer the meat and vegetable mix in it and even it out with a spoon or a spatula.
  5. Over the meat, pour in enough cold water so to soak about 2/3 of the meat.
  6. Preheat the oven at 200°C (400°F). Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for about 40-50 minutes, until all water is evaporated and the meat is well cooked and firm.
  7. In separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the natural yogurt. Pour this egg custard as an even layer over the cooked meat in the baking dish.
  8. Bake a little longer, until the crust is golden brown all over the top of the musaka.

Serve musaka lukewarm with a side of plain natural yogurt and a few garlic cloves or sprigs of green garlic to bite into. If you prefer to accompany musaka with a side dish, choose a refreshing yogurt salad, such as snejanka or trakiiska salads, or a homemade turshia (pickled vegetables).