Sunday, August 21, 2011

Purple Pixie Eggplants - Sabich, An Israeli Street Food Sandwich

August 14, 2011
Good Morning everyone, I couldn't wait to share with you all these gorgeous purple Pixie eggplants. They are so petite and pretty I am going to go and get some more at Wegman's, but first things first....I already pickled a small batch of them in leftover brine from Red Wine Vinegar Heirloom Green Tomato Pickles, and we love having eggplants simply roasted with olive oil and salt, maybe a touch of parsley as a garnish, now and then. Question is can you share in the comment section ideas, recipes for these beauties? Also, if you know anything about these Pixies I would love to learn. Thank you and excited to hear your suggestions and information.
August 20, 2011
Many thanks for all the wonderful suggestions and comments my friends. You guys were such a large part of this important brainstorming process. Many readers and friends suggested roasted eggplants, some suggested marinating, some Caprese salad among many other incredible suggestions and links to recipes. This process triggered some thoughts and ideas and it all came full circle as the Sabich (Hebrew: סביח). The Sabich ties together the India street foods and snacks series and the simultaneously running Israel series.
Some very familiar Middle Eastern street foods, such as the Falafel and the Schawarma, are wide spread Israeli street foods, but the lesser known to all is the Sabich. The Sabich is very unique to Israel and was brought by the Iraqi Jews when many emigrated in the 1950's to Israel and mostly settled in Ramat Gan just outside Tel Aviv. Traditionally the Iraqi Jews eat on the morning of the Sabbath, on flat Iraqi bread stuffed with fried eggplant slices, sliced browned egg from cooking on low heat overnight, Israeli salad and drizzled with parsley lemon Tahini (sesame paste) sauce and an assortment of other salads and condiments according to personal taste. Continue reading and you will find out what I mean when I say 'according to personal taste'.
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Today, the little Sabich shops, stands and kiosks scattered mainly throughout central parts of Israel, serve the pita pocket with sliced hard boiled egg. Since I didn't want to fry the eggplant, I served it with roasted slices of eggplants instead. I switched to the roasting method years ago anytime a recipe calls for fried eggplants, and honestly I achieve very similar, if not identical, results sans (too much) oil. The name Sabich is said to be derived from the word Sabah which means morning in Arabic. Others claim it was named after Sabich Sasson, the owner of the first Sabich stand near Tel Aviv. Lastly there is the camp that says Sabich is an Israeli acronym for Salat (salad), Beytza (Egg), Yoter (more) and Chatzil (eggplant).
The Iraqi Jews brought with them to Israel not only the Sabich but also the Amba condiment to go with it. Yes, you might be as baffled as I was growing up, and ask what an Indian green mango pickle, the Amba, has to do with Iraqi cuisine?! Since then I grew up and learned a bit about the history of how this came about.
Muslim merchants and sea fareres landed on the Malabar Coast in Southern India as early as the 7th century, trading spices and other gooods with India. The Iraqi merchants travelling through the Gulf Coast and the Indian Ocean first arrived in India during Medieval Ages with the 7th century marking more of the beginning of that period. They brought the Amba to Baghdad and Iraq proper. Now a staple in the Iraqi pantry, the Iraqi Jewish community in turn brought the Amba to Israel. (note: this paragraph ensued an entire discussion with Jonathan on accurate portrayal of history and if Medieval Ages term was used by the Muslim world for that period of time, etc. I tried to do my best with the research)
Just for point of reference: The Iraqi Jews who arrived in India and settled there, known as the Baghdadi Jews, are thought to have arrived later, during the British Raj, British Colonial times in India (1858 and on). Indian Jews in general (as there are five different distinct Indian Jewish communities) trickled into Israel in the 50's but the majority arrived in the 60's with many Indian products now available in Indian spice and other shops in Israel. I wrote a bit about the Jewish community in India in my Malida, Sweetened Poha Breakfast Cereal or Ceremonial Offering?! if you wish to read more.
Many Israelis having Sabich mid-day at lunch time, though a delicious pickle, they forgo the Amba as the pungency and strong aroma might stay with them throughout the work day. Many feel they do not wish to 'sweat Amba' throughout the day. I added a touch of Amba to Jonathan's first Sabich today. The tahini and Amba in the Sabich are a natural fusion of the Mediterranean with the Indian flavors.
The most notorious, long waiting line, Sabich stand in Israel is Oved's in Givatayim, just outside Tel Aviv. Oved the owner developed his own Sabich lingo unique only to his Sabich universe. Ingredients take verb form and some soccer world terms and teams are thrown in the Sabich lingo. Then there are 'massive' and 'aggresive' terms for the measure of the intensity of the heat you wish for the hot sauce or Amba in your Sabich. All ordering lingo is proudly displayed on the menu board on the wall behind the counter.
Super nutritious, especially when the eggplant is roasted, the sandwich contains many necessary nutrients including protein rich Tahini and egg. Many Israelis also add protein rich Hummus. Vegetable are in abundance in this pita pocket, in addition to the eggplant we have the Israeli salad and coleslaw. The Iraqis also add sliced or diced boiled potatoes into the mix.
Super surprise for the New Yorkers among us, when heading to Taim, instead of Falafel, indulge in Sabich next time. While googling for Taim's link I came across Chow's YouTube video on Taim's Sabich.
For the rest of us who do not have Falafel shops who offer Sabich, or Falafel shops in our neighborhoods at all for that matter, this sandwich is super easy to assemble. Pitas, pickles, hummus and tahini are freshly available, the rest easy to dice and put together. Keep in mind I also keep seasoning very light throughout the components for the flavors to blend in harmony and complement and not overpower each other.

Sabich

Whole grain or regular pitas:
Store, bakery bought or my Pita, Plain, with Zaatar and Tomatoes recipe. See comments on post for further tips.

Eggplants:
2 Large eggplants or a 22 oz package of purple Pixie eggplants  (I got Pixies at Wegmans)
Olive oil for brushing
Sprinkle of salt

Slice eggplants and layer on a parchment paper layered cookie sheet. Brush with oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 350F oven until golden at the bottom. Flip and keep roasting until golden on the flipped side. This will take about 45 minutes total. Once flipped after 30 minutes or so it takes less time for the eggplant to golden on the flipped side. This step can be prepped a day or two ahead. Refrigerate if not immediately using roasted eggplants. Some choose to roast at 400F, then the time will be shorter.

Hard boiled eggs:
I found on Simply Recipes site a good article on How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs. I would not add vinegar and we usually like our eggs immediately after cooking them.

Coleslaw:
1/2 large cabbage, sliced into long thin strands
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients. I massage the coleslaw with my hands. This step can be made a day ahead but will lose a bit of the crunch. It's really east to toss it together last minute.

Israeli Salad:
2 baby cucumbers, peeled (if desired) and diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 small onion, diced (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Splash of lemon juice (optional)

Add all ingredients and mix just before assembling sandwich.

Tahini sauce:
Buy ready tahini sauce or make it yourself in minutes. Tahini sauce is now available in most grocery stores in the ethnic isle or ready in the refrigerated section along with the Hummus. You can also find it in Middle Eastern shops.
Equal parts of raw Tahini and water. I made a large batch:
1 cup raw Tahini paste (sesame seeds paste)
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste (1/4 teaspoon first than taste -1/2 teaspoon)
Bunch of chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)

Mix all ingredients and keep refrigerated until serving.

Hummus:
I sometimes buy, most of you are familiar with Sabra,  but I usually make my own. Since I make it as I go and feel the recipe until I reach the consistency and flavor desired, I haven't posted one yet. Meanwhile if you wish to make from scratch here is a good option from Tasty Recipes Hummus without Tahini recipe. SKIP the cumin at least for this Sabich.

Amba:
I just buy pickled green mango at the Indian grocery store but you can also order it on nutsonline. I found this fantastic Amba recipe on food.com.

Additional variations:
-Peeled boiled, diced and slice potatoes
-Sliced or diced cucumber in salt or vinegar pickles

Sabich assembly:
Slit pita pocket open half way around. Spread some Tahini, Hummus and Amba if desired. Add 2-4 large eggplant slices or 8-10 Pixie ones. Layer with slices of one egg, Israeli salad and coleslaw. Drizzle with some more Tahini and serve. Can add boiled potatoes (I never do) and sliced or diced pickles according to taste.

In addition to all who commented below I wish to thank my twitter friends who came up with recipe suggestions. I also wish to thank my Facebook friends who participated in the fun 'guess which Israeli street food am I posting next?'on Shulie FoodWanderings and FoodWanderings facebook page.

I asked on twitter for peeps to link me to their hummus recipes. I was looking for recipes without Tahini in them but since these are such fantastic options here are some more Hummus recipes. Thank you guys.
@ordinaryblogger Hummus, plus 3 tips to get kids to eat healthy post and recipe.
@nomnivorous Hummus, or why I am a horrible daughter post and recipe.
@nella22 Hummus Recipe and Tahini Review post and recipe.
@BobMarchese uses Rachael Ray's spicy hummus: quick chickpea spread recipe as a guide.
@wanderingspice a duo of dips: hummus + smoky eggplant post and recipe.
@CookKosher chunky parsley hummus recipe.

53 comments :

  1. I just saw these tiny eggplants at the market here in Montreal! They're so adorable! Have you tried steaming them? There was a recent article in the NY Times about steaming eggplant, and also a recipe in the Special edition of Everyday Food for steamed eggplant and mushrooms with peanut sauce (I tweaked it a bit 'cause it needed more zip, but still good!). You should check them out!

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  2. Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables! I love just breading them and making a caprese salad with breaded eggplant, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil!

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  3. These are adorable! I love simple grilled eggplant, and "mini eggplant Parmesan" comes to mind :-). Enjoy!

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  4. They are gorgeous. Too bad they're not available all the time.

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  5. So pretty! I've never had those eggplants...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Adorable is the word. Not a typical one for veggies...but it's true! I know nothing about them but the caprese salad sure sounds good!

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  7. I've marinated them with vinegar, capers, and mint and it's just wonderful.

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  8. These are the cutest things ever. Love your photo.

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  9. Cute eggplants! this is the first time I see this variety. I love japanese eggplants which are tiny and so flavorful, my mom slices them thinly then adds salt and lets them rest until they let go some water. Squeeze and eat with japanese rice. So good :)

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  10. i like making eggplant cookies! http://juniakk.blogspot.com/2011/07/maple-eggplant-cookies.html

    aren't they so cute? i love pixi eggplants!

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  11. these are SO CUTE SHULIE!!! and i bet they are the best pickled - wow!

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  12. They look gorgeous! What a beautiful colour! I have told this over a hundred times but I LOVE eggplants!
    I mostly just stir-fry them in a typical south Indian style - oil + mustard + curry leaves + green chili and eggplants. cook for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and serve with rice or chapati!! YUM

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  13. Lovely click shulie. I ain't a big eggplant fan but slowly I am trying to enjoy it :-)

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  14. TY Jan. I looked it up never made steamed eggplant. Looks intriguing and an Asian twist to it too. Nelly, do you fry or bake the breaded eggplant? TY for suggestion I need to re jump start my salads. TY EA, never made eggplant parmesan, I bet my hubs would love it and maybe that way my son too would love it too. I know, right, Nisrine?! & Rosa, I bet one of the European markets must carry it, no? Now, am curious. So true Barb, adorable & you and Nelly think alike. Bri, do you let it marinate for awhile or immediatey serve? TY so much Rivki and Alison. I am really having fun with the new camera. Yuri, she does not cook them? might make sense since they are so tender...also do you know if Pixie is a Japanese variety? Junia, Eggplant cookies?! That is a first for me. Rushing over to check it. Heard of jams but never cookies. OMG Deb, they are precious in the jar. Can't wait to taste them soon. Chimnayie, I do too love the south indian stir fried method, so quick so delicious, right?! Xiaolu, I already gave you the history of the board on twitter. Was nailed to a tree by the shed in our backyard. Was part of and old crumbling tree house. I went out there with a hammer and tools to pry it away. Was scared of snakes and critters. Nature did a good job distressing it. Vijitha, my son isn't either but need to bring you both you eggplant loving side. lol. TY for the compliment
    Thank you all for dropping by and your kind words.

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  15. I love love love grilled eggplants. and what a lovely shot shulie!

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  16. Love your new props here! The rustic woodboard! :)

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  17. Those must be the most beautiful eggplants I have ever seen, Shulie. I love them in so many ways, but lately, I have enjoyed grilling them. These are almost too pretty to cook!

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  18. It may sound strange to call food "adorable" but those really are adorable!

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  19. I am in LOVE with everything purple these days. Such a soothing color - these eggplants are stunning!

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  20. I like to eat eggplant roasted and then mashed with some spice mix.. baigan bhartha you know! Once I had this eggplant curry one of my friend's mom made .. cannot remember now. Let me find that out and email you.

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  21. how adorable! i saw this recently at my local farmer's market and roasted them right away:) just lovely!

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  22. Oh I can't wait to see what you have to share, the eggplants are gorgeous! The color is so vibrant and happy! I wish I could share a suggestion, but I don't eat enough eggplant:-p Hugs, Terra

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  23. These cute purple eggplants are in plenty here. Love to make stuffed eggplants with Indian spices. Waiting to see what you come up with these veggies...

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  24. I have two recipes I love, make ratatouille and make a sauce or soup out of them

    http://picturesofaprincess.blogspot.com/2011/08/eggplant-pasta.html

    http://picturesofaprincess.blogspot.com/2011/07/confit-byaldi-aka-ratatouille.html

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  25. I love them; like little jewels. I recently saw little white ones at the market but rarely cook eggplants so I'd have to figure out what to make with them. Yours are lovely.

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  26. Shulie: they are so adorable...you almost feel bad eating them!!! just joking...
    Here are some ideas from me:
    - pickle them!
    - slow roasted
    - pasta all siciliana (dice them, fry them, then toss the pasta with fried eggplants, diced mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Top with Parmesan cheese)
    - Eggplant "caviar" (http://www.ztastylife.com/2009/10/eggplant-caviar.html)

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  27. love these cute eggplants..!
    i love mine roasted, mashed and spiced
    or cooked with indian pickle spices( ground fennel, fenugreek, nigella, cumin and poppy seeds), salt,chili and a little oil!.

    Richa@ Hobby And More Vegan Food Blog
    Hobby And More on Facebook

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  28. Beautiful and delicious looking. Thanks for linking up my recipe.

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  29. That's my kind of sandwich! And gosh does that pita look wonderful!!! I miss good pita bread

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  30. Definitely my kind of sandwich as well! I LOVE the boiled egg in there, and roasted eggplant is a gorgeous thing! :) Glad your brainstorming brought this amazing post together!

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  31. That sandwich looks so good. I've never been a huge eggplant lover, but I think it's more lack of expereimenting than anything. This sandwich could win me over, though :). Love all the history, too! Very interesting. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know. I made 'eggplant caviar' out of Tom Colichio's 'Cook Like A Chef' book last year. It was pretty good!

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  32. WOW! That looks so good! Will have to try it!

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  33. Wow..how wonderful each recipe look..fresh and so vibrant in color! The salad, sauce..tahini...which one to try first? Lovely post, Shulie. You keep the exciting building for your eggplants :)

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  34. Gorgeous, Shuli! Love the combination of flavors--it must just explode in your mouth! And thank you for the lesson in history and anthropology. I know shamelessly little about the Middle East.

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  35. shulie...there is so much interesting information ....love all the research you've done ! i truly enjoyed reading every bit of that. this is a very interesting sandwich, ive never had eggplants in a sandwich. i dont like them much, but maybe this recipe will make me like them more. the tip on roasting eggplants is great !

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  36. Wow this looks so amazing ... I am entranced by those purple pixies and definitely adding it to my recipe file! I have yet to find tahini in our local grocery stores. Sigh. I know SOMEONE here must have it!
    Here's what I did with my purple pixies: http://sumptuousspoonfuls.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/lebanese-eggplant-sausage-and-chickpea-stew/

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  37. Shulie,
    My mouth was watering looking at your photos. Thanks for the hint on ordering at Taim.

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  38. Oh my! Simply stunning - what a loverly find!

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  39. Fascinating post! I really enjoyed reading it and learning about the deeply cultural element to the food. Here's one of my faves for eggplant of any sort.

    http://www.localinseason.com/late-summer/24-japanese-eggplant-yellow-bean-and-caramelized-onion-tapenade.html

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  40. This was truly very interesting, thank you for sharing! I honestly don't know enough about Israeli food. The flavors in everything sound amazing:-) Hugs, Terra

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  41. My mouth waters for your Sabich. I'm familiar with falafels and schawarmas -- there was a huge schawarma craze in the Philippines back in the 1990s-- but I've never had Sabich. LOve the hardboiled eggs. And those beautiful eggplants. How can I resist?

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  42. I need those in my garden next year - they are darling!

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  43. Shulie, came from Kankana's...gosh the purple eggplant is gorgeous and your pic's are stunning!! loved reading about Israel and Indian mixture. My colleague is a Jew who loves my Indian food, i'm sure going to pass on ur blog to him!

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  44. What a gorgeous looking eggplants.... awesome photographs... Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

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  45. I LOVE eggplants in any form. The name Pixie itself makes them so beautiful and delicate. This sandwich is to die for, with ALL the things that I love to eat. A whole substantial meal to have.

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  46. Wow what an informative post, Shulie! Love learning about food. This sandwich looks great, loved the lemon tahini sauce :)

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  47. i bought some of these beautiful eggplants at wegmans last week and most of them got roasted and a few used into a stew. I don't know if I have the change to buy some more before I leave but when I get back I'll definitely try your pita pockets. They sound like the perfect brunch!
    Thanks for the history lesson, always a pleasure to read about other countries food cultures!

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  48. this is such a diff kinda recipe for me. You always teach something new out here.. I would have never thought of adding eggplant in sandwich. very neat and looks delicious.

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  49. Such an interesting piece of history. And gorgeous clicks. My started watering after seeing the pics of the mango pickle. I never knew mango pickle was common in Iraq. That Sandwich sure looks delicious! The only sandwich I know with pita bread are the shawarma and the felafel sandwich. This is such a refreshing change to them.

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  50. Shulie-This is one of my favorite posts that you've written. You make me want to take a plane to try Oved's Sabich stand. The eggplants are so pretty and every thing looks scrumptious. Thank you for sharing this history with us.:)

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  51. This is such an interesting post! Love the colour of the aubergines too!

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