Vegetarian Moussaka

January 2, 2021mayurisjikoni
Blog post




Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka is a flavorful, creamy and delish version of the original meat moussaka. Herb flavored lentil tomato sauce is spread between layers of vegetables, topped with Béchamel Sauce and baked.


What is a Moussaka?

A Moussaka is a layered casserole dish with minced meat in between layers of vegetables, usually eggplants and potatoes. Mention Moussaka and its generally associated with Greece. But did you know that the dish originates from the Balkan and Middle East. The best known version world wide is the Greek version. Before 1900 Moussaka was simply layers of vegetables and minced meat. Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek Chef trained in France introduced Béchamel Sauce based Moussaka which caught on pretty fast in the rest of Europe and America.  


A bit about the group:

Every month a new theme is chosen by members. Then the participants are paired up. They give each other 2 secret ingredients to use in their recipe which is prepared fitting the theme. As soon as their dish is ready, the photo is shared on our Facebook group and other try and guess the secret ingredients. Finally, towards the end of the month the recipe is shared on the group. This way members get to know each other and interact with each other.



This Month’s Theme

This month Priya  who blogs at The World Through My Eyes suggested the theme HOT POT SPECIAL. We had to prepare any dish that is best enjoyed hot. Priya’s vegetarian version of Tom Kha, a Thai Coconut Soup is on my list to prepare when I get some kaffir lime leaves and galangal. The soup can be enjoyed on its own or with rice. 


My Partner

This time I have two partners, Poonam who blogs at Annapurna and Preeti who blogs at Cakes & Curries. Poonam suggested lentil and cheese which gave me the opportunity to pull out the Moussaka recipe from my recipe book.  I gave Poonam Spinach and Carom Seeds. Using those ingredients she has prepared Palak Puri/ Spinach Poori  which are best enjoyed piping hot.

Preeti wanted to make a dessert so I gave her ghee and nuts. With those ingredients she has prepared …


Some Baked Dishes that may interest you

Gobi Musallam/ Whole Roasted Cauliflower Curry

Baked Kurkuri Bhindi/ Crispy Okra

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa

Beans and Veggie Pot Pies

Caprese stuffed Portobello

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

Mexican Macaroni

Vegetable Cheese Macaroni/ Baked Pasta

Handvo – Gujarati Savory Bake

Baked Potato/ Jacket Potato

Vegetable Crepes



Saturdays were days when my Kaki (aunt) and I would open up Tarla Dalal recipe books and try out International Cuisines. Back then we didn’t have many International Cuisine restaurants in Nairobi besides Indian, Chinese and Italian ones. One day we tried the Moussaka recipe from the cookery book. Just layers of potatoes and eggplants topped with white sauce. The family loved it and become a regular request. After marriage I probably made it twice and forgot all about it. Don’t get me wrong, the new family too loved it but then I got into learning so many other newer recipes. When Priya suggested Hot Pot Special I knew I had brush off the dust from my Moussaka recipe, But with a bit of change.


More About Vegetarian Moussaka

For this recipe, to cut down the baking time, I roasted the potato and eggplant slices. Lentils cooked in a herby and flavorful tomato sauce was spread over the layers of vegetables. Finally a creamy béchamel sauce was the top layer with some grated cheese. Baked and served piping hot with a salad, it makes a filling and delicious meal. 


Is there a difference between White Sauce and Béchamel Sauce?

No, there is isn’t. Béchamel Sauce is the French name for the white sauce. To prepare a wonderful creamy silky sauce, the proportion of flour and butter or oil has to be perfect. Also it is vital to use hot milk. If you skim on the butter or oil, the flour does not roast well and becomes pasty. Adding hot milk and stirring the sauce continuously makes it lump free and smooth. 


Ingredients required for Vegetarian Moussaka

  • Eggplant – aubergine, brinjal – use the long or big variety. I prefer to use the big fat variety as they tend to be more fleshy. 
  • Potatoes – use the ones that are suitable for roasting or baking
  • Onion – finely chopped for the lentil tomato sauce. Use white, yellow or red. Chop finely.
  • Garlic – for the lentil tomato sauce. Peel and chop finely.
  • Olive oil – need for the lentil tomato sauce and also for roasting the eggplant and potato slices.
  • Dried Mixed Herbs– I used dried herbs as I was not able to buy fresh thyme and oregano. Use fresh herbs if you want.
  • Cinnamon Powder – for the lentil tomato sauce.
  • Salt – for the Béchamel Sauce, the lentil tomato sauce and for sprinkling over the roasted vegetables.
  • Water or Stock – for the lentil tomato sauce.
  • Fresh Tomato Puree – fresh tomatoes are steamed and pureed.
  • Pepper Powder – for the lentil tomato sauce and the Béchamel Sauce.
  • Butter– for the Béchamel sauce. Can replace it with oil of your choice.
  • Milk – for the Béchamel Sauce
  • Flour – generally all purpose flour or wheat is used for the Béchamel Sauce. However, to make it a gluten free meal option I used oats flour.
  • Nutmeg Powder – for the Béchamel Sauce.
  • Cheese – any of your choice. I’ve used cheddar cheese. Some options are ricotta, feta, mozzarella or Goats  Cheese.


Dietary Tips

  • Suitable for a Vegetarian Diet – just make sure you use a rennet free cheese or omit it.
  • Gluten Free as I’ve used oats flour.
  • For a Vegan Version – avoid using butter for the Béchamel Sauce and also use a vegan friendly milk. Omit cheese or use vegan cheese.


Vegetarian Moussaka is a flavorful, creamy and delish version of the original meat moussaka. Herb flavored lentil tomato sauce is spread between layers of vegetables, topped with Béchamel Sauce and baked.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Main Meal
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Servings 4


The Vegetable Layers:

  • 500 g potatoes
  • 400 g eggplant
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

The Lentil Tomato Sauce:

  • ½ cup lentils, Puy Lentils
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ tsp pepper powder
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • 1- 1¼ tsp salt

The Béchamel Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp melted butter or oil
  • 2 tbsp oats flour
  • 1 cup milk hot
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ¼ tsp pepper powder
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 1 cup cheddar cheese grated


  • Preparation of the Vegetables
  • Peel the potatoes and parboil them. That means don't cook till done.
  • Allow the potatoes to cool down.
  • Slice them into ¼ inch roundels.
  • Remove stalk of the eggplant and cut into roundels about ¼ inch in thickness.
  • Add the eggplant slices in water till required.
  • Heat a frying pan or griddle pan over medium heat.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil. When it becomes hot arrange the potato slices in the pan.
  • Allow the slices to roast or cook for 1-2 minutes or till they brown slightly.
  • Turn over the slices, sprinkle some salt and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Keep on the side till required.
  • Remove eggplant slices from the water. Pat them dry on a towel.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil in the pan. Arrange the eggplant slices and allow them to cook till the slices brown a bit.
  • Turn them over, sprinkle same salt and roast for 1-2 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat.

Preparation of Lentil Tomato Sauce:

  • Wash and soak lentils for 30 minutes in warm water. This will help the lentils to cook faster.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add chopped onion and stir fry till it becomes soft and slightly brown.
  • Add chopped garlic. Stir fry for a few seconds.
  • Add lentils, tomato puree, mixed herbs, water or stock and salt.
  • Mix well, cover the pan and allow the lentils to simmer over medium to low heat till done.
  • If required add a bit more stock or water.
  • Take the lid off the pan. Add cinnamon, pepper powder and mix well. Make sure the lentils are done and the liquid has been absorbed. If not, cook till the liquid is absorbed.

Preparation of the Béchamel Sauce:

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan till it becomes hot.
  • In another pan add butter or oil and put it over low heat.
  • Add the flour and keep stirring it till it turns light pink in colour and the mixture is all frothy and bubbly.
  • Take the pan off the heat. Add milk slowly stirring the flour mixture all the time to avoid lumps.
  • Put the pan back onto the heat. Keep stirring the mixture till it becomes thick and creamy.
  • Take the pan off the heat and keep the sauce on the side till required.

Preparation of Vegetarian Moussaka

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Take a 8" X 8" deep baking tray. Lightly grease it with oil or butter.
  • Divide the roasted potatoes and eggplants into 3 parts.
  • Spread a bit of the lentil sauce at the bottom of the tray, a thin layer.
  • Layer the first portion of vegetables in the prepared tray.
  • Spread half of the lentil tomato sauce over the layer.
  • Using the second portion, make a layer of the potato and eggplant slices over the sauce.
  • Spread the remaining lentil tomato sauce over the vegetables.
  • Layer the remaining potato and eggplant slices over the sauce.
  • Evenly spread out the béchamel sauce over the vegetable layer.
  • Sprinkle grated cheese over it.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes till the top is golden brown.
  • Serve Vegetarian Moussaka with some salad.


  • Along with eggplant and potato, can also add zucchini. 
  • Can replace the lentils with moong beans or chopped mushroom.
  • Can omit cheese for a healthier moussaka. 
  • Instead of cheddar cheese can use feta, ricotta, goats cheese or mozzarella.
  • If you used canned tomatoes, adjust the salt in the lentil tomato sauce accordingly.
  • Use fresh herbs if you get some.
Keyword vegetarian moussaka recipe

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A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962




  • Poonam Bachhav

    January 3, 2021 at 11:25 am

    5 stars
    Your Vegetarian Moussaka version sounds such a filling and nutritious dish ! I loved the use of oats flour and nutmeg in the Bechamel sauce. Sounds absolutely flavorful !

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 3, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Thank you so much Poonam, it certainly is a filling and nutritious meal. I always add a bit of nutmeg to Béchamel sauce as it adds so much flavour.

  • Maria

    January 5, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    5 stars
    Beautiful memories and a heartwarming recipe! I love moussaka but have never tried the vegetarian version. Your clicks are so inviting and recipe sounds so doable that I’m planning to try it soon.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 5, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Maria, please do try the veggie version. Its actually very easy to put together.

      1. The Girl Next Door

        January 9, 2021 at 4:54 am

        5 stars
        I have only read about moussaka, but never had a chance to try it out! This looks so delicious and comforting, perfect for winter days. Love the addition of lentils here to make the dish protein-packed and healthy.

      2. mayurisjikoni

        January 9, 2021 at 4:36 pm

        Thank you Priya, its such a flavorful and quite easy to make dish. Try it. If you don’t want to add cheese on top you can omit it to make it more healthier.

  • Swati

    January 5, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    5 stars
    A very filling and appetizing meal for chilly winter evenings… I too love the use of béchamel sauce here as ids will too have it without any complaining.. shall try it soon .

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 5, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      Thank you so much Swati. Do try the dish, we love it.

  • Tilwale Aloo – food-trails

    January 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    […] across the globe. I have bookmarked few of her recipes to try out, like this delicious one pot meal Vegetarian Moussaka . She made for the theme these crispy and crunchy Italian Sesame […]

  • Indrani Sen

    January 5, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    5 stars
    Using lentils replacing meat is a wonderful idea

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 5, 2021 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks Indrani, it definitely is. Some replace it soya mince but I don’t like it.

  • kalyani

    January 6, 2021 at 8:02 am

    5 stars
    This was my life saver when we went to Europe and finding warm, egg-free food was a task.. and Your version is sooo inviting, warm and cozy!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 6, 2021 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you so much. We love moussaka with lentils. Makes it more filling and balanced too.

  • Shobha Keshwani

    January 9, 2021 at 1:37 am

    5 stars
    This is such a nice variation of the popular dish Moussaka. I love Greek food. In this recipe I like the healthier version of Bechamel sauce made with the addition of oatmeal instead of APF. I am also avoiding it as much as possible these days.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 9, 2021 at 4:38 pm

      Thank you so much Shobha. I usually make béchamel sauce using atta flour. However, someone had requested a gluten free version. So I tried it with oat flour for this dish. Works well.

  • Archana

    January 10, 2021 at 11:01 am

    5 stars
    Beautiful, delicious, filling and definitely interesting use of brinjal aka aubergine! Thanks to you now I will not reinvent the wheel just follow the recipe blindly. I am sure hubby will love it and will want nothing even a salad with it.
    I love your memories associated with the dish yes we do tend to forget some of the old favourites.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 12, 2021 at 4:57 pm

      Thank you so much Archana. Do give this dish a try. You can also add courgettes and mushrooms.

  • Anu Kollon

    January 14, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    Never heard about the Moussaka before. All thanks to you for introducing dishes from around the world. This looks like a heathy and filling dish. Must give a try.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

      Thank you so much. I’m sure you’ll like this dish, do try it.

  • Vasusvegkitchen

    January 15, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    5 stars
    Vegetarian Moussaka looks very tempting with melted cheese on top. You shared very detailed information about Moussaka and differences between sauces. Also loved reading your memories with this recipe. This is very new recipe for me, surely will try it sometime soon.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 15, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      Thank you so much Aruna, its a healthy and nutritious dish. Do try it out some day.

  • Preethicuisine

    January 16, 2021 at 10:15 am

    5 stars
    Vegetarian Moussaka looks absolutely incredible.Perfect nutritious meal anytime.I loved the detailed write up too.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 17, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      Thank you so much Preethi.

  • Renu

    January 16, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    5 stars
    That is a healthy and a delicious way to add some eggplant and lentils to ones diet and specially fussy eaters. Thanks for the details about different sauces.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 17, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      Thank you so much Renu. Without the cheese which is optional, it is a healthy meal.

  • Jayashree T.Rao

    January 17, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    5 stars
    This vegetarian moussaka is quite new to me. Looks tasty and filling, I must try to make it sometime. Anything other than eggplant that can be used here?

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 17, 2021 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you Jayashree, traditionally eggplants and potatoes are a must in Moussaka, however modern versions include mushrooms, zucchini.


    February 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    5 stars
    Vegetarian Moussaka looks so tempting and cheesy. Anything with white sauce and cheese is always a hit. Love the way you have used lentils in tomato sauce. makes a whole fulfilling meal.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 5, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      Thank you so much Narmadha.

  • Shobha Ka Khana Fun: Makki Ka Sheera – Halwa / Sheera de harina de maíz – The Indian Dishes

    August 31, 2021 at 12:44 am

    […] soy un gran admirador de sus recetas y he probado muchas. A ella se le ocurren nuevos platos como Moussaka vegetariana Cuál es el siguiente en mi lista. Me encanta su forma de explicar todo en detalle sobre todas y […]

  • ashok

    September 2, 2021 at 1:54 am

    5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.

  • Ambika

    August 11, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    Hi , thais sounds such a fantastic recipe- which lentils can I use ? Are Puy lentils the brown or red ones?

    1. mayurisjikoni

      August 16, 2022 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Ambika, for this recipe you have to use the brown ones, the whole puy lentils and not the split one.

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