North Macedonian Musaka
North Macedonian musaka (македонска мусака) or “moussaka” as it’s often spelt internationally is an amazing soul-warming casserole dish that is easy to make for dinner.
As one might guess, then similarly to chapati, musaka is not only made in North Macedonia. It’s a dish that is a part of Ottoman Empire cuisines. It’s been made more popular to the world by Greek and Turkish cuisines. However, if you think you know what musaka (or moussaka) is then there are actually some differences to the North Macedonian version versus, for example, the Greek version.
Greek moussaka is generally made with tomato-based minced meat sauce, eggplant layers and béchamel sauce. Musaka in North Macedonia and other Balkan countries is traditionally made of ground beef, spices and fried onion spread on layers of potato slices – so the eggplant is replaced by the potatoes there and the tomatoes are not used.
Perhaps we can visit the Greek version once we get to that country!
Tips and tricks for making the musaka
Before I start, there’s a mandatory disclaimer that this time my close friend and an amazing baker (and her bf) were visiting and they were helping out. So all the beautiful potato slices you see in the pictures? These are all there thanks to Mari and Rob!
By the way – Mari has her own baking blog, so feel free to check it out: maribakes.com
Now, onto the musaka. We commonly make similar casserole dishes at home in Estonia as well, so making this recipe was very easy and “homey” for us. 🙂 However, we simply call them potato and minced meat dishes, without any specific name.
When checking the original recipe at first, we weren’t really doubting the potato and liquid amounts. However, once we started layering the potatoes into my dish, we realised rather quickly that the 1,5 kg potatoes mentioned in the original recipe was definitely way too much. And by “way too much” I mean that we got another full dish of potato gratin from the leftovers.
On another note, the amount of liquid there was not covering the potatoes enough, so halfway through the baking, I had to add some more.
Additionally, I recommend being quite generous with salt when layering the potatoes. With dishes like these, both the potatoes and the liquid will absorb the salt, so you’ll need more than you think. Although, of course, you can always add more later if you’re scared of oversalting the dish. Easier to add later than take away. 🙂
In the recipe below I have already made the adjustments, so you wouldn’t need to waste any precious potatoes (although who wouldn’t love an extra dish of potato gratin). Less to peel and cut, yay!
As usual, let me know down in the comments if you tried it and how you liked it! If you want to read more about life in North Macedonia and check out the other recipes, see my post here!
Note: in the “Around the World” challenges, I try to find the most authentic recipes available. I will generally not make adjustments myself, other than converting the measurements and possibly giving some additional tips in the steps. This way, you’ll get the same traditional experience when trying yourself! 🙂
This time, however, I combined multiple recipes from different sources so some amounts have been adjusted. Simply so you guys wouldn’t have massive amounts of leftover potatoes as I did…