Sabich—no idea what it means, but years ago I saw it on a menu in a restaurant in Hollywood, Florida. An Israeli, Middle-Eastern style restaurant, of course. I had no idea what it meant, but the description sounded delicious—fried eggplant, hummus, slow-cooked hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, salad, amba (don’t get me started on amba! Yum!) and for those who like spicy, add some zhug. Or a lot of zhug. All of this would be stuffed in a pita.
So, I ordered the sandwich. I was mostly embarrassed for mispronouncing it and being corrected by the waitress who looked at me like I was an idiot. It was ok. The sandwich, I mean.
Although I’ve been to Israel dozens of times (and actually lived there through my high school years) I don’t think I paid any attention to the foods that were typically Israeli. Ironically, my knowledge of Israeli food came from food establishments owned by Israelis around other parts of the world. It would not surprise anyone if I told them I could find falafel in Tokyo or shakshuka in Budapest. (And I have!)
So on my most recent trip to Israel, I took a “food tour” at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. There, I had the freshest and tastiest foods—bourekas, malabi, shakshuka, hummus (as a main dish, not a dip), chumshuka—hummus with shakshuka on top of it) among some other things. Our guide from Delicious Israel, Inbal, explained that most foods and food traditions in Israel originated in other countries and were brought with the people who emigrated there. But sabich is a combination of those foods, put together in a pita sandwich. So that the sabich is uniquely Israeli. On this most recent trip, though, I was handed a perfectly stuffed, gorgeous-looking sandwich, in the freshest, fluffiest pita I had ever tasted. Wow, what a difference from my earlier try!
The key to a perfect sabich, aside from fresh ingredients, is properly layering everything so you get a bit of each ingredient in every bite. I guess it’s an art. Anyway, I highly recommend trying this at home! Simply prepare the ingredients in advance and let everyone make their own sandwiches as they like. It’s filling and fun and definitely dinner-worthy!
Typical ingredients for Sabich:
Boiled and peeled potato, sliced
Hard-boiled egg, sliced
Cabbage or leafy green salad
Layer all ingredients in the pita as desired, and enjoy a uniquely Israeli sandwich!
By Rachel Berger