Matbucha, A Moroccan Tomato Chutney!
Again, one of the many arrays of salads and spreads at Friday night dinners in many homes in Israel. Perfect as a side dish to spread on challah. I even like to spread it on The Perfect Honey (raisin) Challah for that spicy, tangy flavor of the Matbucha with a surprise sweet bite of the raisin in the challah.
I also served the Matbucha many times at New Year Eve's parties as the base layer or building block of a baguette crostini or a bruschetta, top it with roasted eggplant and roasted bell peppers and garnish with parsley, for a beautiful cocktail party hors d'oeuvres, or lunch appetizer with the girls. You can also make it ahead and serve as one of the sauces for a summer BBQ. It is a staple at our home year round.
Going back to building blocks, I strongly feel that the first layer of the crostini is most important, that is the layer that gives you and dictates the other flavors and ingredients to match. Once you made a statement with a 'wowing' matbucha on a crostini, you can afford layering it with a plainly roasted bell pepper or eggplant, in their own juices, not compromised, in the purest form and essence of their flavors. Just like the Moroccan preserved Meyer lemons can be used as that 'wowing' effect and topped with avocado and just a touch of capers or anchovies on top. Trust me if I won over a friend of mine that does not like spicy foods, eggplant, anchovies and Moroccan preserved lemons, you too will win over the most finicky eaters in your circles.
Keep in mind as always to be attentive and nurturing to your dishes as you cook them, just like sweating garlic (when not burning it) it will puff in fuzzy white puffs, this chutney will get an intense color and flavor as it reduces slowly and patiently on the stove with much love. Make it your own to a degree 'cause' I love my version just so. My friend in Israel uses only 4-5 cloves of garlic, I use 8 garlic cloves. Also I use 2 large jalapenos in hopes that they are spicy. If you can't take the heat, use 1/2-1 seeded. Now all is left is to jar it!
4 medium tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes
1 can (14.5oz) of whole Roma tomatoes
4-8 garlic cloves - minced
2 large jalapeno peppers, sliced into thin discs or halved length wise and sliced thin into half moons
1/2-1 scant teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
Blanching tomatoes: Boil some water, turn off and drop tomatoes in for few seconds. Fish tomatoes out of the water. Peel skin off, it should come off easily. Dice (according to preference some like this salad chunky) peeled tomatoes and add to a large sauce pan. Drain canned tomato juices into diced tomatoes, chop canned tomatoes a rough chop and add to pot with fresh tomatoes. Mince garlic directly into tomato mixture. Slice jalapeno and add to tomatoes together with oil and salt. Turn heat on bring to a boil and reduce to low. Let bubble slowly, uncovered, until the moisture almost completely evaporates. Matbucha will have deep red/orange color and a jam/relish consistency. Stir the sauce occasionally so it won't stick to bottom of pot and burn. Adjust for salt as the Matbucha reduces. Let cool and store in fridge.
I used to elevated my son's school lunch sandwiches with a touch of Matbucha, his usual Whole Foods peppered turkey and thinly sliced cucumbers to balance the bite of the tomato jam. His friends were begging him to trade lunches even pay for it. He wouldn't! :)
Note on the oil: The oil in the dish has double purpose to it, not only as a lubricant for the pot so that the Matbucha won't scorch, but also as a preservative. In our house it doesn't last that long but it will keep well for up to a week unless you can it to preserve it even longer.
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