Considered the first native Israeli dish, Eggplant and Eggs Pita Sandwich (Sabich) is popular street food, and very flavorful and easy to make.
Sometimes you find yourself in a tight spot, only to find out later that what you thought was your bad luck at work turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Imagine that, I almost left Israel without tasting this Eggplant and Eggs Pita Sandwich (Sabich). That would have been nothing short of a tragedy.
There are as many theories about the origins of sabich (I have seen it spelled sabih and sabikh too), as there are versions of it, but there's one thing most Israelis seem to agree on: this is probably the first Israeli dish.
Sure, all the parts seem to have come from elsewhere (The salat yerakot yisraeli [Israeli Vegetable Salad] is from Palestinian and Arab origin. The huevos haminados [Oven Eggs] are of Sephardi [Spanish Jewish] origin, and tahini is used all throughout the Middle East) but it was in Israel where somebody first stuffed all this into pita bread.
About this recipe
Like you would expect, every vendor keeps their recipe behind tight lips, and some of those versions are going to be very difficult to reproduce elsewhere.
Inbal, whom we met for dinner on our last day, knew just the place to try this dish: The Happiness Joint, where two surfer dude-looking young men have made a name for themselves serving this quintessential Israeli dish. I have tried here to reproduce theirs as best as I can.
Eggplant and Eggs Pita Sandwich (Sabich) Recipe
Huevos haminados (marbled eggs)
- Dry skin of 5 red onions
- 1 teaspoon of coffee
- 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
- 6 eggs
- 3 medium eggplants , sliced very thinly
- 3 tablespoons of salt
- 1 cup of vegetable oil (corn, canola or peanut)
- 1/4 cup of tahini
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice)
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 sprig of flat parsley , chopped
Salat yerakot yisraeli (salad)
- 2 cups of diced tomatoes (about 3 large tomatoes)
- 1 cup of diced cucumber (about 2 small cucumbers)
- 1 small purple onion , chopped very small
- 3 tablespoons of chopped flat parsley
- 6 pita breads
Huevos haminados (eggs) [see notes]
- Cooking eggs: Place the onion skin, coffee, bicarbonate and eggs in a deep oven-safe bowl. cover with water plus 4 inches [14 cm]. Cover with a tight fitting-lid and place in the oven at the minimum temperature it reaches. Cook for 3 hours. Remove from the liquid, gently tap against the countertop to crack the eggshell but without peeling. Return to the oven, cover, and cook for another 2 hours. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven until it reaches room temperature (about another hour).
- Peeling and dicing: Remove eggs from the water (discard water and onion peels), peel, and cut the eggs into quarters. Set aside.
- Frying eggplants: Place the eggplants in a deep bowl. Cover with a quart [1 lt] of water and add the salt. Let it rest for an hour. Remove eggplants from the water, rinse and squeeze as much water as possible. Pad dry with a paper towel. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Deep fry the eggplant slices until they turn golden brown. Let them rest on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Set aside.
- Making sauce: Mix all the ingredients until you have a thick but pourable sauce (you may need to add a bit more water). Set aside.
Salat yerakot yisraeli (salad)
- Making salad: Mix all the ingredients to combine. Set aside.
- Serving: Halve the pita bread, stuff with salad, eggplant, and eggs. Drizzle with tahini sauce to taste.