Sami Tamini’s recipe in Falastin for musaqa’a uses ingredients popular throughout the Mediterranean – chickpeas, aubergines, and tomatoes. Although musaqa’a sounds similar to the Greek dish moussaka, this Levantine recipe is very different from its Mediterranean cousin. 

In Arabic musaqa’a means “cooled”, and in Lebanon this combination of vegetables is eaten at room temperature.  But since it’s not quite hot enough in the UK, this works well for supper on a chilly April meat free Monday.  Any left-overs make a perfect packed lunch. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a jar of chickpeas from the Bold Bean company or Brindisa in your cupboard, you’ll notice a huge difference in terms of taste, but a tin of chickpeas works just as well. 

Tamini’s recipe uses 1 teaspoon of sugar, instead we used Zejd’s pomegranate molasses for depth and flavour, as suggested by Barbara Massaad in her recipe from Mezze. If you happen to have some Lebanese black olive jam, that is a delicious sugar substitute in the sauce!

Painting the aubergine in Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil may seem decadent, but adds loads to the taste, and is healthier than using a refined olive oil. (See last week’s newsletter.)

Many thanks to Sami Tamini for allowing us to use this adaptation from Falastin, and to Barbara Massaad for her recipe from Mezze. 

serves 4 generously

2 large aubergine (500g in total)
90ml extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (130g)
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp tomato purée
2 red Romano peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 700g jar of Brindisa chickpeas (or a 400g tin of chickpeas) 
1 tablespoon of Zejd pomegranate molasses
15g fresh coriander, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, each one sliced into 4
salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees fan.  With a potato peeler remove strips of the aubergine skin from top to bottom so it looks a zebra.   Cut widthways into circles about 2cm thick, lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper or a mat.  Coat the slices with about 75ml of the extra virgin olive oil, using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the over for about 30min until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
  2. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees fan. 
  3. While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large sauté pan on a medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée cook for another minute or so.  Add the red peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, 200ml of water, 1 tsp salt, and generous grind of pepper.  Turn the heat down low, and let it gently simmer for 20 minutes until all is fragrant – taste to check for seasoning. Add the coriander and remove from the heat. 
  4. Line the base of an oven proof dish (20×30) with some of the sliced tomatoes and the aubergines. Then spoon on a generous layer of the chickpea sauce. Add another layer of tomatoes and aubergine and finish with the chickpea mixture on top.  Drizzle over the remaining extra virgin olive oil, cover with tin foil and bake for 30 min. Lift of the foil, continue to bake for 20 min. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 min. Serve alongside some bread to mop up the sauce, and greek yoghurt if you have any.


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