December 10, 2022

What To Know About Moussaka, Greece’s National Dish

Moussaka is a delicious, hearty Greek food that many consider the country’s national dish. Here’s what you need to know about moussaka and its origins.

Many people know Greece for its ancient history, palatial architecture, and, naturally, its traditional, delicious, Mediterranean-inspired foods. Like most countries, Greece has an unofficial national dish that its citizens consider the best of the best. In this case, the dish in question is the delectable moussaka. If you want to learn more about this popular Greek treat, we teach you what you need to know about moussaka, Greece’s national dish, here.

What’s Moussaka?

Moussaka is an eggplant- or potato-based casserole that features delicate layers of soft sheet pasta, minced, seasoned meat, veggies galore, and a thick, creamy bechamel. While it traditionally contains ground lamb, meat-free variations of moussaka exist, making it a popular dish for carnivores and vegetarians alike.

What’s Its Origin Story?

It may shock you to learn that this beloved Greek dish doesn’t have Greek origins. Presumably, moussaka originated in the Levant, a region in the Middle East consisting of the countries Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan. A medieval 13th-century cookbook titled “A Baghdad Cookery Book” contained a recipe akin to moussaka, called musakhkhan, though musakhkhan was more similar to a stew. Arab immigrants from that area brought musakhkhan to Turkey and Greece. Then, in the 1920s, Greek chef Nikolaus Tselementes experimented with the dish and transformed it from a stew into a hearty casserole.

Is It Greece’s Only National Dish?

Interestingly, no! Greece has six national dishes in total—gyro, moussaka, souvlaki, magiritsa, kokoretsi, and fasolada—but moussaka is the one that people tout about most frequently as the be-all and end-all of Greek cuisine.

Now that you know all you need to know about moussaka, Greece’s national dish, why not try to make it yourself? Even if you don’t plan on visiting Greece for the food any time soon, you can enjoy its culture via homemade meals.

 

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