Maghmour, also known as Lebanese Moussaka, is a traditional vegan Lebanese dish made with chunky tender eggplant pieces, chickpeas, onion and spices that have been simmered in a rich red sauce made with tomatoes. This is a healthier oil-free version that is naturally gluten-free.
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🍅 What is Maghmour?
Maghmour is a traditional dish from the Middle Eastern region, particularly from Lebanon.
It is a type of moussaka, sans meat, featuring eggplant as the main ingredient. However, a distinctive difference is that Maghmour is not layered.
Typical ingredients eggplant, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, garlic, and a variety of spices such as cumin, cinnamon, a blend of 7 spice and paprika.
It can be served as a main course or as a side dish, and can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. See serving suggestions below.
Maghmour may be known by different names depending on the region or country.
In Lebanon, it is sometimes called "Maghmoor" or “masa’a’ah” (the “k” is silent).
Another name is "mnazaleh", recipes may vary slightly.
In other Middle Eastern countries, it may be referred to as "Imam Bayildi," which is a similar eggplant-based dish that originated in Turkey.
Some recipes call for the use of meat and additional vegetables such as peppers (capsicum).
🍆 Why is it called Lebanese Moussaka?
The exact origins of moussaka are unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East regions.
The dish has been documented in various forms as far back as the 13th century.
With the earliest known written reference to moussaka appearing in an Arabic cookbook from the 13th century called "Kitab al-Tabikh" (The Book of Dishes).
However, the dish “moussaka” as most know it today, typically features layers of eggplant, ground meat, and a creamy béchamel sauce. It was likely developed in Greece during the 19th century.
In Arabic the word “moussaka” translates to English as “cold” and refers to how this dish can be eaten cool.
It is pronounced as “musa·a·ah” (the “k” is silent) or "mu·saq·qa'ah" (depending on the region).
As you have most likely deducted, there are various moussaka recipes around the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions.
Hence this recipe is the Lebanese version.
🍅 Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- It’s another tasty Lebanese recipe from my Lebanese family’s cookbook
- Healthy and satisfying, bursting with flavor
- Very easy to prepare.
- Perfect for enjoying warm or at room temperature. My preference is room temperature.
- Vegan and oil-free, making it low-fat. It is naturally gluten free and also suitable for soy free and corn free diets
🍆 Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Globe eggplants are semi-peeled by alternating strips (see pics below) and then chopped into thick chunks that are air fried without oil to create a crispy texture.
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can oven-bake until golden. (Traditionally, the eggplant is fried in oil)
Tip: the alternating peeling of the eggplants helps to ensure they don't fall apart during cooking as they become very tender.
Tomatoes should be ripe and will be batched into two.
One batch is for pureeing and the other is cut into chunky dice which will help to create a rich tomato base.
Tomato paste will boost the fresh tomatoes, I like to use an organic, low-salt version.
Chickpeas adds some plant protein. To save time I have used organic canned chickpeas which have been drained and rinsed.
If you are using dry chickpeas, cook these prior to using in this recipe.
Red onion will add a sweet and savory flavor. You can use any type of onion, including shallots which are to be cut into slices.
Garlic cloves are sliced lengthways. Feel free to add more or less if you like.
Lebanese 7 Spice, is a blend of spices, I encourage a homemade blend for the freshest possible taste (use my Lebanese 7 spice recipe), however, you can purchase the spice blend here (affiliate link).
N.B., this blend is used quite a lot throughout my cooking, so there will be plenty of opportunity to use it.
Cayenne Pepper for a little bit of heat, a little goes a long way. This can be swapped with paprika or chili powder instead if you prefer.
Salt and Pepper to taste
🍅 How to Make Maghmour
Step One - Once the eggplants have been peeled (see pic above) and diced, air fry them without oil until golden brown.
Step Two - In a non-stick pan over high heat, sauté the sliced red onions with two tablespoons of water until they are soft and translucent. Add the sliced garlic cloves and saute until they have softened.
Step Three - Add diced tomatoes to the pan and cook until they have softened (a few minutes).
Meanwhile, puree the other batch of tomatoes in a food processor. Add in chickpeas, tomato paste, tomato puree, and all the spices and seasonings. Stir until everything is well combined.
Let it simmer for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. The sauce will thicken slightly.
Step Four - Gently stir in the air-fried eggplant and let everything simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
Turn off the heat and allow the Lebanese moussaka to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Optional - top with dry toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley leaves (which I highly recommend)
Tip: as air fryer's differ in make and model, the time to air fry eggplant may be different. Keep a watch when frying your eggplant. I use the IdealFry by De'Longhi (affiliate link) on high for 15 minutes.
My personal favorite way to enjoy maghmour is to serve it at room temperature (the flavors are best at this temperature), with fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts on top.
Use Lebanese pita bread to scoop it up and eat with your hands. If you are gluten-free, use GF pita bread.
Pair it with a crisp salad for a refreshing contrast to the rich tomato base. Try it with Arabic salad.
Whilst not traditional, use it as a topping for baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. That way you get your starch and fiber intake.
Spoon it over a bed of fluffy couscous, vermicelli rice, vermicelli bulgur or quinoa.
Scoop it up with fresh onion wedges. A typical way of eating for Middle Easterners.
Whilst most are vegetable-based and vegan-friendly, maghmour may sometimes call for the use of meat. You should read the recipe ingredients.
While eggplant is a key ingredient in this recipe, you could try substituting it with zucchini or squash if you prefer. Peeled potato chunks may also work. The cooking time may differ.
Store in the refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container once it has completely cooled. To enjoy, reheat it slightly to make it warm prior to serving.
Batinjan mahshi is another Lebanese recipe of vegan stuffed eggplants. Filled with rice and veggies in a tomato broth.
Otherwise, try this Lebanese eggplant dip called baba ghanouj.
If you like tomato bases, try my bamia (okra stew) or my bazella w riz which is stewed peas and carrots.
Else, try perusing my vegan Lebanese recipes.
Easy Maghmour (Lebanese Moussaka)
- 3 medium - large Eggplants peel off alternating strips and cut into large cubes or chunks
- 3 small Red onions sliced
- 2 tablespoons Water
- 3 medium Tomatoes diced
- 3 medium Tomatoes pureed in food processor
- 1 can Chickpeas drained and rinsed (or 1½ cups)
- 2 tablespoons Tomato paste heaping
- 5 Cloves Garlic sliced
- 1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper cracked
- ⅛ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1⅓ cups Water
- Air fry the eggplant without oil until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Do this whilst preparing and cooking the rest of the dish.3 medium - large Eggplants
- In a non-stick pan over high heat, sauté red onions with two tablespoons of water until they are soft and translucent. Add the sliced garlic cloves and saute until they have softened (see note 1)3 small Red onions, 2 tablespoons Water, 5 Cloves Garlic
- Add diced tomatoes to the pan and cook until they have softened (a few minutes). Meanwhile, puree the other batch of tomatoes in a food processor. Add in chickpeas, tomato paste, tomato puree, and all the spices and seasonings. Stir until everything is well combined. Let it simmer for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. The sauce will start to thicken slightly.3 medium Tomatoes, 3 medium Tomatoes, 1 can Chickpeas, 2 tablespoons Tomato paste, 1 teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice, ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- Gently stir in the air fried eggplant and up to 1⅓ cups of water and let everything simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the flavors to meld together (the sauce will thicken further) Turn off heat and allow the Lebanese moussaka to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Optional (highly recommended - top with dry toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley leaves)1⅓ cups Water
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
Absolutely terrific, easy to make, loads of positive comments from our guest.
I don’t see olive oil?
This is a low fat recipe. But feel free to use olive oil to fry your eggplant if you desire
I made a wrap with mine using Leb bread.
Good choice! I sometimes do that too 🙂