Sabich is one of the more popular pita sandwiches you’ll find in Israel, but the origin of the name is disputed. Some say it comes from the Arabic word for breakfast – the combination of eggplant, hard-boiled egg and potatoes originated with Israel’s Iraqi Jewish community, where it was eaten on Saturday mornings. Some members of the community simply know the dish as “Iraqi breakfast.”
Others say the dish is named after the first man to sell it in Israel: One Sabich Tzvi Halbi, an Iraqi immigrant who set up shop in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan in 1961.
And yet others say the name is an acronym in Hebrew for its main ingredients - salad, egg and eggplant.
But some things about sabich are undisputed. The dish is as Israeli as it gets, evolving out of the community of Iraqi immigrants who settled in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. Likewise, every sabich has the same basic ingredients: a pita filled with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, salad, and condiments such as tahini and amba, a bright yellow sauce of pickled mango and fenugreek. Many versions also include slices of potato.
The dish is simple to assemble at home – buy some amba, fry some eggplant and chop some vegetables. And there you have it – lunch (or breakfast) is served.
tahini sauce (Want to make your own? Click here to learn how.)
1 pita per person
1 hard-boiled egg per person
boiled potato (optional)
Cut the eggplants into long strips, from the base to the green stem. Slice the strips into 3-4 smaller rectangles. It is crucial that the long eggplant fibers are kept intact, as opposed to slicing the eggplant into rings.
Arrange the eggplant slices on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for a while (optimally 30 minutes) so that the eggplant can “sweat.”
After the eggplant as "sweated," pat the extra liquid off the slices with some paper towel.
In the meanwhile, slice cucumber and tomato, and chop parsley. Prepare tahini, and boil eggs and potatoes, if using. Allow eggs and potatoes to cool, and then slice.
Heat a pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with oil. Arrange slices of eggplant in the pan, no more than one layer deep, and fry until the bottoms are golden. Flip and fry the other side. Repeat with all the eggplant slices, adding more oil as needed.
Fill pitas with tomato, cucumber, parsley, eggplant, sliced egg, sliced potato (optional) and tahini and amba. Adjust fillings to taste.