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Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

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Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) in a casserole dish on a red cloth.

Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) is a hearty stew with the delicious taste of the Middle East. Lebanese moussaka is made of eggplant, chickpeas, and maybe ground beef in a flavorful tomato sauce topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. 

It is a popular dish in Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East. Eggplant lovers will enjoy this delicious stew. The word “moussaka” is derived from the Arabic word “musakka,” which means “to bake.” 

The sauce for this dish is very similar to a bolognese sauce used in traditional Italian cooking for a lasagna. The difference is in the spices. Moussaka sauce has a certain earthy and spicy flair. 

Where Does Moussaka Originate 

Map of the Middle East

The origin of moussaka is a long and curious story. Moussaka or aubergine stew is known as the official dish of Greece even though it wasn’t created there. There is a book called ” The Baghdad Cookery” – a medieval cookbook from the Levant region that has a recipe for the earliest version of moussaka.

The cities of Beirut, Amman, Tel-Aviv, and Damascus in the eastern Mediterranean Region of West Asia are known as the Levant. There, the delicious flavours of ripe tomatoes, chickpeas, and a variety of spices including a bay leaf or two are mixed with chopped eggplant to create a magical and rich dish.  

2 eggplants in a basket to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

The more popular Greek version of moussaka dates back to the 14th century in the city of Thessaloniki, Greece. Greek moussaka is layers of eggplant nestled in a rich lamb and tomato sauce. 

Variations Of Moussaka

The dish has changed throughout time and region with different variations due to cultural differences. There are different names for this dish such as:

  • Moussaka
  • ​Levant moussaka or Maghmour – a vegetable stew with eggplants, chickpeas, or meat. 
  • Moussakakia
  • Moussaka me pasmata – with pasta
  • Chickpea stew
  • Moussaka me kolokithakia – with zucchini
  • Moussaka me lahana – with cabbage
  • Moussaka me patates – with potatoes

There are many variations of moussaka, but the basic ingredients are usually the same. Eggplant, tomatoes, and spices. Some add meat, some add potatoes, and some prefer it vegan.

Moussaka is baked in the oven until the eggplant is tender and the sauce is bubbling. Moussaka is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a cold winter night. It is also a great way to use up leftover vegetables. If you want a new and exciting dish to try, moussaka is a great option.

​Vegetarian or Vegan Versions

Chickpeas in a wooden bowl to add into Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

This delicious dish can be made vegetarian and vegan. The traditional dish of moussaka is delicious without meat or ground beef. The heartiness of the chickpeas adds a great texture and a good amount of protein.

You can use canned chickpeas or dried pre-cooked chickpeas. If you make a pot of chickpeas, add several cups of fresh water in a large pot and cook for a couple of hours until tender. (taste one and you’ll know if they are done). Check out my hummus recipe and read all about canned vs. dried and how to prepare them. 

To make a vegan eggplant stew, omit the meat and leave off the creamy bechamel sauce. Add in a bunch of spices and make this recipe your own. Moussaka is also delicious with a handful of lentils.

Spices And Optional Ingredients For Moussaka

Spices on a wood board I selected to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

​Here are some options to add to your Lebanese maghmour:

  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Lemon juice
  • Chili powder
  • Red onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Cayenne pepper (for a little heat)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Potatoes

Ingredients In Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

Ingredients to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) artfully arranged on the counter.

Here are the ingredients for Lebanese moussaka and the Bechamel topping:

  • 2 medium-sized eggplants. A large eggplant with be more watery and have less flavor. Since this is the main ingredient, choose slightly firm and smooth eggplants without blemishes in the grocery store. 
  • 1 pound ground beef – I pre-cook all of my ground meats. See here how I do it. 
  • 1 medium to large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 28-ounce can of petite diced canned tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 15-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed well
  • 2 Fresh tomatoes to top the dish (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt (more to taste later)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 cups of heavy cream

Eggplant Preparation To Make Moussaka

Hand with a green painted thumbnail holding a eggplant to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

Eggplants (like zucchini) are a very watery vegetable. The Lebanese version has a more stew-like consistency so I usually just use the eggplants as they are. If you desire a more structured casserole like lasagna or a Greek dish moussaka, then you will want to do a little bit of prep. 

The first thing you are going to do is slice the eggplants into rounds and sprinkle each with a pinch of salt. Lay the slices on a wire rack over a sheet pan.  Let them sit for an hour or two to release excess moisture and then wipe them dry with a tea towel or paper towel to remove some of the water and salt.  

Sliced eggplants arranged in rows and salted to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

The eggplant cubes or slices can then be roasted on a baking sheet at 400 degrees (high heat) for about 20-30 minutes. A traditional recipe called for fried eggplants in olive oil, but this can get messy and adds more calories. If you have an air fryer you can use that! I prefer to drizzle the chopped eggplants or slices with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast them in the oven. 

Instructions To Make Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

Get out your casserole type of dish and get ready for an incredibly delicious meal. 

1. Roast your eggplants until lightly golden brown – about 30 minutes. 

Roasted eggplant slices on a cooking sheet.

2. Make the sauce. In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat sauté onion and green pepper until lightly brown. Add in the ground beef (mine is pre-cooked from the freezer) and cook until done. Drain any grease that you can. 

Cast iron skillet with ground beef to make the sauce for Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

3. Add to the ground beef the tomatoes, chickpeas, spices, sugar, and bay leaves. Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour. You can do less, but the sauce gets so much better with time. Remove the bay leaves when the sauce is done cooking.

Sauce for Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) in a cast iron skillet.

4. Make a bechamel sauce for the top. Check out the full tutorial here. In a saucepan or large skillet melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for one minute whisking often and then add the room temperature heavy cream. Whisk well and let simmer for a couple of minutes until thick.

Creamy bechamel sauce in a pan.

5. In a large baking dish layer a spoonful of sauce and then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat 2-3 times depending on how many of the ingredients you have. 

Roasted eggplants in a dish layered to make Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

6. On top of the last layer, pour all of the white creamy bechamel and spread it around evenly. Slice the fresh tomatoes put on top and sprinkle with oregano. 

Bechamel sauce being poured into the dish of Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

7. Place the casserole on a baking tray in a preheated oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and cook another 10 minutes.

Baked Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) in a casserole dish.

8. Let sit for about 10 minutes and serve hot. 

Notes:

​The cooking time will vary depending on if the dish is cold from the refrigerator or if it is frozen – add additional time. 

See the post for further information on preparing the eggplant.

Taste the two sauces and adjust the seasonings. Add more salt if needed. 

How To Serve Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

White bowl with a piece of Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) with a spoon.

Lebanese eggplant moussaka can be served as the main course or as part of a meze (an Eastern Mediterranean appetizer spread). A meze would contain cheeses, hummus, meats, and vegetables. It is best served warm and goes well with many sides but here are some favorites:

How To Store And Reheat Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

Store any leftovers in an airtight container (I love these Pyrex dishes) for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer in a freezer bag for up to 6 months. 

White bowl with a piece of Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour).

To reheat:

In the microwave: Use a microwave-safe container and heat at 30-second intervals at 80% power until hot. 

In the oven: Use an oven-safe container and heat until hot at 350 degrees F (oven heat)  – about 20-25 minutes.

Stovetop: Heat the desired amount in a saucepan over low heat stirring often until hot.  

Wrapping Up Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

Baked Simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) in an oval casserole dish with a loaf of bread.

This delicious and simple Lebanese chickpea and beef moussaka (maghmour) is a great dish to serve for lunch or dinner. It can be made ahead of time and then easily baked at dinnertime.

Moussaka can also be portioned out for meal/lunch prep and to be added to an appetizer board. Let this be one of the new cuisines you try this year – your whole family will love it. I bet you will want seconds of this dish!

​Cheers,

Sarah

Recipe Card For Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

5 from 1 vote

Simple Lebanese Chickpea And Beef Moussaka (Maghmour)

A hearty stew of eggplant, chickpeas, and ground beef in a flavorful tomato sauce topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:40 minutes
Cook Time:40 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized eggplants
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 28- ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 15- ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 15- ounce can of chickpeas rinsed well
  • 2 Fresh tomatoes to top the dish
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  • Roast your eggplants until lightly golden brown – about 30 minutes.
  • Make the sauce. Sauté onion and green pepper until lightly brown. Add in the ground beef (mine is pre-cooked from the freezer) and cook until done. Drain any grease that you can.
  • Add to the ground beef the tomatoes, chickpeas, spices, sugar, and bay leaves. Simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour. You can do less, but the sauce gets so much better with time.
  • Make a bechamel sauce for the top. Check out the full tutorial here. In a saucepan or large skillet melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for one minute whisking often and then add the room temperature heavy cream. Whisk well and let simmer for a couple of minutes until thick.
  • In a large baking dish layer a spoonful of sauce and then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat 2-3 times depending on how many of the ingredients you have.
  • On top of the last layer, pour all of the white creamy bechamel and spread it around evenly. Slice the fresh tomatoes put on top and sprinkle with oregano.
  • Place the casserole on a baking tray in a preheated oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and cook another 10 minutes.
  • Let sit for about 10 minutes and serve hot.

Notes

​The cooking time will vary depending on if the dish is cold from the refrigerator or if it is frozen – add additional time. 
See the post for further information on preparing the eggplant.
Taste the two sauces and adjust the seasonings. Add more salt if needed.
Cuisine: Greek, Lebanese
Keyword: Chickpeas, Eggplant, Moussaka
Servings: 6 people
Author: Sarah

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