A street food classic in Israel, sabich is a pita sandwich stuffed with fried eggplant slices, hard boiled egg, Israeli salad, and plenty of tahini. Make yourself one at home and feel like you're on the beach in Tel Aviv.Yum
The sabich sandwich hails from the Iraqi-Jewish community in Israel that finally caught onto the mainstream like wildfire, becoming a beloved street and beach meal. To make it, you'll need some good-quality pitas and prepared tahini, plus Israeli salad and any condiments you want to add—amba, an Iraqi spiced pickled mango condiment, is the classic.
The elements of sabich
The sabich is a simple sandwich, but preparing the elements that go into it at home requires a bit of prep work. Apart from the eggplant, you'll need some large pitas, hard-boiled eggs, salad, and prepared tahini (not raw tahini). A note for vegans: In place of the hard-boiled egg, you can use slices of yellow potato. Just peel a medium yellow potato and boil whole until tender (about 25 minutes), then cool and slice. It's a classic variation! Some versions of sabich have the potato.
The eggplant, as explained in detail below, gets salted an hour ahead of frying, so that's the first step. After that, I like to put on the eggs so that they have time to cool before slicing. Then, you can go ahead and prep the salad and tahini.
For the salad, all you do is dice a tomato and cucumber and toss them with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. For visuals on how to dice the veg, see my post on Israeli Salad.
For the tahini, you first add lemon juice to the raw tahini and stir. It'll lighten, then thicken. Add in the salt and garlic, then the water. The tahini will "break"—look like an unattractive mess—before emulsifying into a wonderfully creamy, smooth paste. For a complete walkthrough of the process, see my post All About Tahini.
Preparing the eggplant
For sabich, you'll want a medium to large globe eggplant, which gets sliced into rounds about ½" / 1.5 cm thick. As I mentioned above, the eggplant slices get salted and left to sweat out some moisture and bitterness. After an hour, blot the slices. I like to leave mine on a wire rack set over a sheet pan (like in the picture), which I then use to drain the fried slices with paper towels under the rack.
My method for frying the eggplant comes from Michael Solomonov's wonderful cookbook, Israeli Soul, via HaKosem ("The Wizard"), a well-known falafel joint in Tel Aviv (it's not kosher). To give the eggplant an extra crispy exterior, the slices are dredged in cornstarch before frying. They'll still get all gooey-soft in the center, just with a nice crunch on the outside.
Eggplants drink up oil like there's no tomorrow, so start off lightly coating the bottom of your skillet and add more as needed so the pan doesn't get completely dry. You're going to use a lot of oil, no doubt about it, but they don't need to be swimming in it to fry. You want to flip the slices when they're golden with charred spots, about 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.
Assembling a sabich sandwich
To assemble, cut the top off a pita (which, incidentally, makes an excellent testing apparatus to make sure you've got that tahini sauce right where you want it). Layer in three slices of eggplant, then slices of one hard-boiled egg. After that the salad takes up whatever room is left. Last, you'll need a good drizzle of tahini and your sandwich is ready to eat.
Looking for more Israeli street food?
- Dr. Shakshuka's Merguez Shakshuka - Another dish made famous by a popular street food restaurant.
- Yerushalmi Bagel - This big, oblong, sesame-coated roll is the quite different Jerusalem cousin of the American bagel.
- Arayes - These meat-stuffed grilled pitas are everything, and my version is made indoors using a grill pan and the oven.
For the fried eggplant:
- 1 medium to large globe eggplant
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup cornstarch - approximately
- ¼ cup olive oil - approximately
Other sandwich components:
- 4 eggs
- 4 pitas
For the salad:
- 1 to tomato
- 1-2 Persian cucumbers
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper - to taste
For the tahini:
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp ice water
- ½ tsp salt - or to taste
- pinch garlic powder
Prep the eggplant:
- Slice the eggplant into rings about ½“ thick. Salt both sides and place on a rack for one hour.
Hard boil the eggs:
- Cover eggs with water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then take off heat, leaving eggs in the water. Set aside.
Fry the eggplants:
- Wipe down the eggplants so that they’re dry. Pour enough oil into a skillet to coat the bottom. Place over a medium flame. Dredge both sides in cornstarch and place in the hot oil, cooking in batches for 4-5 minutes per side, until softened and charred. Add oil to the pan as needed, so it does not become too dry. Set the fried eggplant slices back on the rack to drain.
Prep the salad:
- Dice the tomatoes and cucumbers into a fine dice. Season with salt and pepper.
Prep the tahini:
- Mix the raw tahini with lemon juice. Whisk until it lightens, then thickens. Season with salt and garlic powder. Add the ice water and whisk until smooth.
Prep the eggs:
- Peel the eggs and slice lengthwise into 3-4 slices each.
Assemble the sandwich:
- Cut the tops of the pitas. Layer each with 3 slices of eggplant, 3-4 slices of egg, salad, and a big drizzle of tahini.