Sabich – Iraqi Jewish Eggplant Sandwich – Recipe

Sabich - Iraqi Jewish Eggplant Sandwich
Sabich – Iraqi Jewish Eggplant Sandwich

So I’m at that Men Cook event I’ve been telling you about, and my friend Aaron starts telling me about this amazing sandwich he’d had in Israel. He had me at fried eggplant and hardboiled egg, and I missed the rest because I was too busy drooling and scheming when I was going to make it. I’d been in Israel this past fall, and was heartbroken that while I’d eaten untold falafel, I’d had nary a sabich.

I did a little web research on sabich, but was waylaid by the fact that I’d need to buy or make a pickled mango condiment named amba. A few days later, Sarina and I were in a Middle Eastern grocery in Bellevue, and there was an enormous jar of it! So I snapped that up. It is the bright orange stuff you see in the back of the picture. And actually the jarred stuff wasn’t that great, kind of harsh for my taste. Maybe a small amount, but this recipe sounds better.

And then, not more than a few days later again, I’m skimming Food and Wine as usual, and here it is again. Some chef in Philly has been traveling in Israel, training up on dishes for his new place and sabich is high on his list. Something is clearly alive in the global food consciousness, and I want in!

From what little I’ve been able to glean, sabich is a popular sabbath food for Iraqi Jews, and when they emigrated to Israel and set up a community in Ramat Gan, the sandwich came with them. It has since gained widespread popularity, and of course in typical Israeli fashion spawned N variations and N * 2 arguments about which one is better.

Above you can see my first try, which I’m not too modest to say tasted damn good. There is something about the creaminess of the egg and the fried goodness of the eggplant that work really well together, and then the garnishes of Israeli salad (tomatoes and cucumbers with a bit of lemon juice) hummus, onions, pickles, parsley and amba give your mouth the full workout of sweet, spicy, sour, herbacious, smooth and crispy.

A quick note on hardboiled eggs. Mine have gotten drastically better since I read How To Hard Boil an Egg. The basic summary is: eggs in enough cold water to cover, covered pot, bring to a boil, remove from heat, sprinkle in a little salt, leave covered for 20 minutes, drain, ice bath, peel, enjoy. Read the site for more tips, but that has been working great for me. They say 30 minutes but I find 20 is perfect. Nice and soft and absolutely no green around the yolk (see the picture above).

Here’s the sabich recipe:

Sabich – Iraqi Jewish Eggplant Sandwich
Vegetarian; vegan if you omit the egg; gluten free if you omit the pita and serve as a salad
Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 4 pieces good pita bread
  • 4 hard boiled eggs (see note above), peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/4" or so thick
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • hummus (bought or make your own)
  • prepared tahina (bought or make your own)
  • 1/2 flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 small white onion minced
  • 1/2 c. pickle, cut into small slices or cubes
  • amba – mango pickle, or failing that, hot sauce of your choice – harissa maybe?
  1. Make a simple salad of the tomatoes, cucumber, and lemon juice, with salt to taste.
  2. Fry the eggplant in batches until thoroughly tender and browned; drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  3. While the eggplant is frying, put each of the other ingredients in bowls so everyone can build a sandwich to their own specifications.
  4. Toast or grill the pita bread.
  5. Serve it forth, preferably with cold beer, make yourself a gigantic sandwich, and chill.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Saturday, April 26th, 2008 in Favorites, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

35 Responses to “Sabich – Iraqi Jewish Eggplant Sandwich – Recipe”

  1. April 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    Ah! So THIS is the name of the sandwich I’ve been eating for years at my in-laws’? I always thought it was just a family-specific food. It _is_ delicious, and a happy brunch food.

  2. April 26, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Beautiful! And it sounds incredibly tasty.

  3. April 26, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    looks very good. i’m new to jewish food, this is down on my list of to-try

  4. Jered Greenwald
    April 26, 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    I didn’t see this when I was in Israel and I think my life is lesser for it. I can’t wait to try this out, it looks phenomenal.

  5. April 27, 2008 at 6:59 am #

    Michael, this sandwich looks awesome! Eggplant is one of my favorite foods and you can bet I’ll be giving the vegan version a try. :)

  6. April 27, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    Please delete the post above which begins “thanks a lot guy.” This is NOT me but an internet troll who has been both arrested and jailed for internet harassment.

    I apologize for the ramblings of a delusional lunatic. Your sandwich looks amazing and how the heck did you get that picture to be so perfect???

    If you’d like more information about the internet troll, please feel free to e-mail me at chiffonade@hotmail.com.

    Till then, keep cooking real (and beautiful) food. There is no substitute. (I’ll be printing this recipe for sure!!)

    Chiffonade,
    Clearwater, FL

  7. April 27, 2008 at 7:38 am #

    Looks great! Nice plating as well.

  8. April 27, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    Drool. Thanks for the gluten-free note! I was attempting to do a “travel” food menu, “traveling” from place to place cheaply by just making Middle Easten, Swedish, Polish, Spanish, etc., food in my own kitchen and pretending I was in those places. Then food prices rose, but I’ll be returning to my Middle Eastern meals with this recipe, for sure! Thanks!

  9. kathleen
    April 28, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    On my Google homepage, I just get the titles and this one made me laugh — my thought was that there was a joke in there somewhere, but clearly I am the only one who thinks an Iraqi Jewish sandwich is amusing.

  10. Michael Natkin
    April 28, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    See the wikipedia page.

  11. May 6, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    OMG, it looks so good and sounds even better! i’m going to make the eggless version this week. BTW, do you think baking the eggplant would be ok?

  12. Michael Natkin
    May 6, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    To me, I really like the fried eggplant flavor. I think it would still be good with baked, but definitely not the same. If you are going eggless, maybe add a bit of vegan mayo or something to provide creaminess?

  13. May 14, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Right, I am making this. Looks divine.

  14. Barbara
    June 4, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    Introduced to this at a stand in Haifa a few months back (still the best after trying at several other places in Haifa and Jerusalem). I prefer over falafel (which was offered as an optional part of the sandwich most places). Delighted to find a recipe–the transliterated spelling was a challenge…

  15. October 13, 2008 at 12:23 am #

    I’ve been enjoying Iraqi sandwich for over 2 decades in Israel and the US, mostly home-style, and your receipe looks delicious. It is, however, missing 2 touches that will make it even better! This is popular for Shabbat (Sabbath) lunch. Since traditionally one does not cook on Shabbat, the ingredients are prepared ahead of time. This results in an eggplant marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cialntro that is simply divine in itself.

    Also, for the same reason, eggs are typically slow-boiled with onion skins and sometimes ground coffee, createing a yummy, almost carmel-like result. Even if you do a quick-boiled version, without “brown eggs” (also known as huevos huminados) it is simply not the same — please do try it!

  16. fmb_356@yahoo.com
    February 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Michael,

    Great Sabich sandwich recipe. Instead of fried eggplant, I grilled the eggplant which I think brings out it’s full complex flavor. The only downside is peeling the eggplant skin post grilling. Also, I used a cilantro/jalapeno hummus. It was delicious. Thank you.

    Franco

  17. Michael Natkin
    February 1, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    Sounds like a winner to me!

  18. May 26, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    amba is really not tasty. It is an aquired taste and the way it tastes in the jar is the way it is supposed to taste. It is also called mango chutney. It comes out of your pores, need I say more.. But sabich, is kick ass

  19. September 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank You Michael, this looks wonderful. I used to eat amba all the time when I lived in Israel, it is vastly underused condiment in the Israeli-food community here in the states! I love everything about this recipe and am so excited to have found your blog :)

  20. March 28, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    I would also grill the eggplant I think. It is a lot flavorful as compared to it fried and there’d be lesser grease. Still a great recipe! Thank you Michael.

    http://myonlinemeals.com

  21. Glauke
    May 14, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    Thank you thank you thank you! I used to eat this (on Fridays, as a special treat, btw) at the deli around the corner from my old work.

    (So, if you ever should visit The Hague, do get a sandwich from Dikke Mik. They are The Best)

  22. Dee
    June 28, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    hello..i tried this recipe today and it was a total hit ..i love it and definitly making it again
    thank you

  23. Phil B
    August 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    The best sabich in Tel Aviv was on Frishman street . . . they would put sauteed potatoes in there too, which were always incredible. I’ve had sabich all over Israel, and I’ve never had this mango stuff . . . but it sounds good!

  24. March 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    This sounds amazing. Sounds similar to something called Baba Falafel rolled that I get at a local restaurant- similar with some obvious changes.

    On the gluten free note … there are these amazing rice wraps that may be similar enough to pita for those who can’t do gluten. They are called Food for Life Rice Wraps. I make pizzas out of them all the time. Not the same, but, it may give you that ‘bread’ feeling that would put this recipe over the top from just being a salad.

  25. jbkassab@yahoo.com
    September 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    My parents are Iraqi Jews and I am proud to say that I grew up with this meal every Saturday morning. I always tell people that I want this to be my last meal. This meal is not only delicious, but just the thought of siblings, friends, grandparents and parents sitting around the table reaching for pita or pouring the Amba or haggling over that last piece of fried eggplant redefines the term comfort food.

  26. Michael Natkin
    September 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that very vivid image!

  27. October 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    I am new to your site and for this whole week I have planned a dinner menu full of your recipes. Tonight I had the Sabich and I love love love it!!! So glad I found this site. Thank You :)

  28. Michael Natkin
    October 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    That's fantastic, Michelle! What else do you have on the menu for the week?

  29. October 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    We had the Kimchi Fried Rice, Coconut Rice & Beans, and Pasta w/Eggplant. I look forward preparing many more of your recipes. Delish!!

  30. Rich
    October 12, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    If ever in NY, try a hole in the wall Jewish food vendor on 12th Street between University Ave and 5th. My office goes there at least once a week for the Sabich Sandwich. Amazing. Two types of cole slaw, fried eggplant, fried onions boiled egg, pickles, hummus, chilli sauce and white sauce. Amazing. It includes a soda for $5.

  31. Michael Natkin
    October 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Thanks for the tip!

  32. Michael Natkin
    October 13, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    That's just great that you tried so many! It really makes my day to hear that.

  33. Bash Hueglin
    November 5, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    I am in a hurry to try your recipe.but I am going to try it with the long cooked eggs made with onion skins and a tea bag. The recipe I am using calls for coffee or tea. The coffee doesn’t appeal to me so I threw in some tea. I am making the eggs in a slow cooker, will store them and use them for this great looking sandwich. Halfway through cooking the eggs you can crack the shells a little and the egg whites will develop some color. Sort of like tie dying. It is similar to a recipe for Chinese tea eggs, which are delicious.

    • November 5, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Yes! My grandma-in-law calls the huevos haminados (in Ladino).

  34. Hani
    December 18, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    Lovely sandwich, Iraqi Jews food is the best

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