Massaa’ means “cold,” and you might wonder if this dish has this name because it is eaten cold, or because the name and the dish resembles the Greek moussaka (minus the meat). We say that to prepare massaee’t batenjenn is to praise eggplants, because it is the best way to cook them, where they melt in the sweet tomato sauce. It is said that there are as many eggplant recipes as there are days of the year, and that a good cook must be able to do a new recipe every day!
- 1/2 cup (125 g) dried chickpeas
- 3 1/4 pounds 1.5 kg large eggplant
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
- 3 medium yellow onions
- 1 fresh red or green chile pepper
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) tomatoes
- Kamal Mouzawak
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6).
Soak the chickpeas overnight in water to cover. Drain, place in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until cooked.
Peel the eggplant, cut into big chunks, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (28 ml) of the olive oil and some salt, and rub well to coat the eggplant. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until the pieces start coloring, about 20 minutes.
Cut the onions into slices, and chop the chile pepper. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the peeled whole garlic cloves and the chile pepper. Add the cooked chickpeas.
Peel the tomatoes if desired (blanch them in boiling water for a minute to loosen the skins), cut into big chunks, and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the baked eggplant pieces, season with salt, and cook for 20 minutes more. Serve at room temperature.