All the elements in a sabich, a popular Israeli sandwich, are familiar items from my Iraqi-Jewish grandmother’s table: fried eggplant, “Shabbat” hardboiled eggs and brightly colored, spicy mango umba (chutney). But it wasn’t until I visited Israel on an “eating trip” that I tasted them all together in one flavorful, vegetarian mouthful.
Sabich was brought into the Israeli culinary repertoire by Iraqi Jews who immigrated to Israel in the 1950s. All the elements of the sabich can be prepared ahead of time, making them an ideal meal for Shabbat mornings when cooking is prohibited. In Israel, it has become a popular street food that is enjoyed on any day of the week.
This recipe replaces fried eggplant with a grilled version that is lightly brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend of sesame, thyme and sumac) and then covered in tahini (sesame paste). The umba, a slight departure from my Nana Aziza’s recipe, uses diced mango and minced jalapeño peppers for extra heat. The shredded lettuce adds a fresh crisp texture to the sandwich. It’s tossed in vinaigrette made from my Nana’s herb of choice, parsley.
Tuck it all together in a fresh pita with hardboiled eggs and hummus, and you have a delicious handheld meal.
Sabich with Grilled Eggplant, Mango Umba and Parsley Vinaigrette (serves 4-6)
Grilled Eggplant with Tahini Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into about 10-12 half-inch slices
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoon za’atar spice mix
½ cup tahini
Grilled Eggplant with Tahini Directions:
*Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with za’atar spice.
*Place seasoned eggplant slices on grill and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until well browned.
*Arrange grilled eggplant on a platter in a single layer and spread evenly with tahini.
Mango Umba Ingredients (yields 1 cup):
1 firm but ripe mango, peeled and diced
6 green onions, sliced thin
½ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, minced
Mango Umba Directions:
*Combine all ingredients in a small, non-reactive bowl.
*Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Parsley Vinaigrette Ingredients (yields 2/3 cup):
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Romaine or iceberg lettuce, chopped or shredded (to toss with vinaigrette)
Parsley Vinaigrette Directions:
*Shake up all ingredients in a jar.
*Toss over chopped or shredded lettuce.
4-6 pita breads
4-6 hardboiled eggs, sliced in half
Hummus (to taste)
*Stuff each pita with 1-2 slices of the grilled eggplant and hummus (to taste).
*Add the lettuce tossed in vinaigrette and both halves of a hardboiled egg.
*Top it off with the mango umba (to taste).
Rachel Harkham’s new cookbook “Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook,” written with Doni Zasloff Thomas, comes out October 15.
For more of Rachel’s recipes, visit her website, www.reciperachel.com.