Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Moussakah vegetarian

While I was in NYC for a conference, I had the pleasure of dining with my sister and brother in law at a fabulous restaurant  Cleo at Mondrian Park Ave. The chef certainly had a way with Mediterranean small plates but one particular dish that caught my attention was the vegetarian Moussakah with eggplants and feta immersed in delicious béchamel sauce.


I have made Mousakkah many times with Lamb, beef and also with just vegetables and it always comes out warm and comforting.

Inspired by Cleo I experimented with a new recipe and it was a winner.


Moussakah is a very popular Greek dish but there are many versions of it through the Mediterranean, all equally worthy of trying.

In a  traditional Greek Moussaka recipe,  minced beef (or lamb) is cooked in a tomato base and spices then layered with eggplants and topped with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese.


In this vegetarian version, my basic ingredients are sweet eggplants and mushrooms. Then the béchamel sauce and the topping of feta and gruyere. I have made two small plates here for lunch but you can adjust and make one large one. The béchamel sauce has leftover which was wonderful. I have stored it for use during the week.




  • 1 large eggplant or 3-4 slim ones
  • Olive oil
  • Pink salt

Mushroom sauce

  • Cremini mushrooms – I box around 20 pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Béchamel sauce

  • Stick of butter – 4 ounces
  • Whole milk – 3 cups
  • Flour – 4 ounces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Grated Gruyere
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Cut the eggplant into slices (1 inch),  Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
  2. Squeeze the liquid from the eggplants with your hands and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the eggplants with some olive oil and bake them for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
  3. Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes,  add the garlic and chopped onions and continue to cook. Add the cinnamon and adjust the salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  4. For the béchamel sauce use a deep pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste and add warmed milk pouring in a stream. Continue to whisk the whole time to avoid lumps and get to a smooth paste.  Remove the pan from heat and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk to incorporate all the ingredient and get a smooth and creamy paste
  5. To assemble I have used 2 small dishes, you can use a large baking dish as well. Sprinkle the bottom with some panko or breadcrumbs and layer the eggplants. Add the mushrooms sauce and another layer of eggplants.
  6. Top with the béchamel sauce, feta, and more gruyere.
  7. Cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins until bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before digging in




Sharing at Fiesta Friday where co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greensand Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life.

Meatballs with Eggplant puree and Radish pesto

After a hectic week I unwind with experimentation of ingredients and spices. Weekends that have nothing to do with my technology work are a way to meditate, unwind and reconnect with living a simple life with natural clean organic cooking.

IAS_0627The weekend is always a time for me to center my energy. Some music, some reading , some quality grounded time with my soul mate and some poetry. Here is my Rumi inspiration from the weekend

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.



With some ground lamb  and free range turkey from the local market I found flavors that yet again favor Mediterranean and Indian spices. My food always needs to be kicked up with some tang and some spice 🙂

For vegetarians, this can totally be made with veggie or lentil meatballs – try black lentils and zucchini.


Summer is also a time to play with you dips and chutney. The beautiful red radishes sprouted in my garden and are a base for this amazing pesto.

IMG_6112Ah and the bread, the bread. So the very creative and inspiring Suzanne posted this pita recipe promising it to be super easy. And easy it was!!  I have made it twice already. Thanks Suzanne 🙂 Please do check out her blog and the recipe here.



  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

a true fusion dish with lebanese and indian flavors



  • 1/2 lb lamb
  • 1/2  ln turkey
  • Combine the minced lamb and turkey
  • Add 1 tsp pink salt
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2  tablespoon gluten free pancake mix ( secret ingredient)
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard oil ( or olive oil)

Eggplant puree

  • 3 Japanese eggplant
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 4 cloves whole garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • Himalayan salt to taste

Radish Almond pesto

  • 2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 5 fresh red radish with leaves
  • Handful of chives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup soaked and peeled almonds
  • 1 cup walnut or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Grated peel of 1 lime.



  • Combine the lamb and turkey and mix in the onion and ground spices with your hands. Add the oil, pancake mix and crack in the egg. Combine well.
  • With wet hands make the meatballs the size of golf balls and line them on a baking tray
  • Bake at 375 F for 20-25 mins. Remove from oven and set aside

Eggplant puree

  • Roast the eggplant over an open fire or on a broiler setting in your over until it is charred and the skin breaks.
  • Let is sit for a few minutes and remove the charred skin by hand collecting the pulp in a bowl
  • In a pan add butter or oil on medium heat and add the garlic and green chili.
  • In about 1 minute add the cumin and let the spices roast for about 2 minutes
  • Add the eggplant pulp and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add chopped cilantro and remove from heat.
  • Blend this with the tahini and add any additional water needed to make a paste.
  • Set aside


  • Blend the ingredients together with salt to taste and set aside


  • In a large plate, spread the eggplant puree and top it with the meatballs
  • Pour the pesto and some extra glugs of olive oil
  • I topped it with chives, my homemade Hibiscus spice mix with a side of Pita and some extra pesto

For the perfect Pita recipe, check out my friend Suzanne’s blog.


I am bringing this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday. Co hosts this week are Monika, Everyday Healthy Recipes, and Juhls, The Not So Creative Cook.

Cacik’ – Yogurt with Cucumbers and Dill

Cacık’ (JAH’- juck), or yogurt with cucumbers and herbs is a simple Turkish dish served as a salad or by itself with some bread on the side. Yogurt with cucumbers is also served in Indian food and called Raita. This particular Cacik recipe is different from Raita in that it uses a lot of Dill weed. Very close in taste to the Greek Tzatziki. The cooling taste makes it a perfect companion to spicy food. I served it for an appetizer followed by a Tagine dinner.

Cacik - Yogurt with cucumber
Cacik – Yogurt with cucumber


  • 2 cups of Yogurt ( beaten)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill weed
  • 1 tsp chopped mint
  • 1 cucumber grated and pat dried in a towel
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Putting it together:

  • Mix the yogurt with garlic and add salt and pepper to tasted.
  • Add dill, cucumber and mint. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

Does not get simpler than that 🙂