Egyptian mesaka’a

Egyptian mesaka’a

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  • 8
  • Easy
  • 25 minutes
  • 45 minutes
  • Woolworths Diemersfontein Plum Pinotage

"Don’t be fooled by the deceptive simplicity of this dish, it’s ALL flavour. Food writer and self-proclaimed schwarma snob Mary Fawzy was kind enough to let me cook her mother’s delicious mesaka’a (cousin to Greek moussaka) and, with her permission, I made some slight tweaks. It’s my new favourite way to cook brinjals and can easily be made without the beef."


  • 4 large brinjals
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 red and yellow peppers, roughly chopped
  • 50 g tomato paste
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1⁄2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 450 g beef mince (optional)
  • 1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock (or water if not using meat)
  • a handful toasted and chopped almonds (optional)
  • pitas, for serving
  • almond rice, for serving

Cooking Instructions

1. Slice the brinjals into discs about 2.5 cm thick. Arrange in a single layer on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 T olive oil. Season with salt. Braai for 5 minutes on each side, until slightly shrivelled and caramelised in the centre.

2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a deep skillet over the coals. Sauté the onion and peppers until lightly browned and the onion is translucent.

3. Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, thyme and chilli powder. Cook until the tomato paste darkens slightly in colour, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and beef mince if using. Continue cooking, breaking up the mince using the back of a spoon, for about 1 minute, until slightly browned but not fully cooked.

5. Add the tomatoes and stock (or water, if you’re not adding meat). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To assemble the mesaka’a, arrange half the brinjal in the bottom of a 20 cm cast- iron pot, followed by half the sauce. Sprinkle over the almonds. Layer on the remaining brinjals and sauce.

7. Cover the dish with foil and cook over the coals for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and serve with almond rice or pitas.

Find more mince recipes here. 

Photographs: Toby Murphy
Production: Khanya Mzongwana
Food Assistant: Emma Nkunzana

Khanya Mzongwana Recipe by: Khanya Mzongwana
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If you're anything like our deputy food editor Khanya Mzongwana, you're obsessed with uniqueness and food with feeling. Cook her family-tested favourites, midweek winners and her mouth-wateringly fresh takes on plant-based eating.

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