While the popularity of falafel and shawarma have spread across the globe, , a Middle Eastern pita sandwich with Iraqi origins, is mostly enjoyed inside Israel. Sabich is a sandwich featuring fried eggplant served in a pita that is also stuffed with hard boiled egg, Middle Eastern salad, Israeli pickled vegetables, hummus, tahini sauce, and amba sauce. If you haven't tried amba sauce before, the complex flavors of this sweet and spicy sauce made from pickled mangoes may surprise you. Sabich isn't as well known as the other sandwiches, but it should be. It's creamy, moist, tart, rich, salty, sweet, fresh, and warm all at the same time.
Recipe developer has created a recipe for sabich that allows you to replicate this popular street food at home. Frying the eggplant is the part that takes the most time, but it's worth it for the flavor and texture that results when tender eggplant, oil, and salt come together for a rich bite. If the ingredient list seems complicated, know that you can save time by prepping the ingredients ahead. Middle Eastern salad, sauce, and hard boiled eggs can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, as well as hummus if you make your own. If you fry the eggplant ahead, reheat it before serving or at least let it warm up to room temperature. After that, all that remains is to assemble your sandwiches and enjoy.
To make the Middle Eastern salad, you'll need tomato, cucumber, red onion, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. The tahini sauce comes together quickly by mixing tahini paste, more lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water. Hard boiled eggs are one of the key components of sabich, but make sure to boil them ahead of time so they'll be ready. One large eggplant will yield enough fried slices for 4 pitas. Fry them in a neutral frying oil and sprinkle them with salt.
You'll need hummus to spread inside each pita, and that can be store-bought or made at home if you prefer. Sabich is also made with Israeli pickled vegetables, which traditionally include ingredients such as cauliflower, turnips, carrots, lemons, celery, beets, and cabbage. If you can't find them or prefer not to make them yourself, you can substitute any pickled vegetables or dill pickles with similar results. can be made at home with a little patience for the resting times, or it can be purchased online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Lastly, you'll need pitas to house all these delicious ingredients.
To make the Middle Eastern salad, place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.
To make the tahini sauce, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to a small bowl and whisk well.
Slowly whisk in the water until the sauce becomes creamy. You may use a little more or less water to reach the desired consistency. Taste, adding more lemon juice or salt if you prefer, and set aside.
Wash and cut the eggplant into round slices about ⅜ inch thick, then cut the rounds in half.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Carefully place the eggplant slices in the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes per side until soft and golden. You'll need to do this in 2 batches (or more if you have a small pan). Add a little more oil if it all gets absorbed.
Place the fried eggplant slices on a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Peel and slice the hard boiled eggs.
Slice the top of the pitas to open them and spread 2 tablespoons hummus inside each one.
Place the eggplant slices, hard boiled egg slices, pickled vegetables, and Middle Eastern salad in layers on top of the hummus.
Drizzle the sandwiches with tahini sauce and amba sauce.
Pickling vegetables is an ancient food preservation method that helps reduce waste and preserve fresh produce so it can be available during the winter or in times of scarcity. People in different countries pickled the local foods that grew in their areas. Israeli are generally made from foods like cauliflower, turnips, onions, carrots, lemons, cucumbers, eggplant, celery, beets, and cabbage.
A traditional sabich sandwich is made from Israeli pickled vegetables. These can be purchased from Israeli food shops or made at home, which is easier than you might think with just water, vinegar, and spices such as turmeric and peppercorns. The time investment will pay off, especially if you make a large batch, as they will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. If you cannot use Israeli pickles, you can substitute any kind of pickled vegetable, including dill pickle slices made from cucumbers, which are the easiest kind of pickles to find in the U.S.
Amba sauce is a pickled mango condiment originating from the historical Jewish cuisine of Baghdad in the 1800s. As the Jewish population of Iraq relocated, the sauce became a Middle Eastern staple, including in Israel. It's now available in many parts of the globe, especially when served over Middle Eastern or Israeli street food like sabich sandwiches. Besides pickled mango, amba contains vinegar and a mix of spices, which can include cumin, mustard, fenugreek, and cayenne pepper. The complex flavor from the mixture of sweet, spicy, and tangy ingredients is captivating.
You can find amba sauce online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you want to try a homemade version, it's not too difficult to make at home, but make sure to give yourself enough time because the mangoes will need a few days to ferment.