Try This Sabich Recipe, the Classic Israeli Street Food Sandwich
This classic sabich recipe has all the unique layers the sandwich is beloved for: crispy fried eggplant, nutty tahini, boiled eggs, and refreshing Israeli salad.
Sabich is an undeniably delicious vegetarian sandwich I was introduced to as a kid and have loved since. It's commonly served for breakfast or lunch on the go, but be warned: It's messy in the best way a tasty, filled pita should be, so pack extra napkins. This recipe is a classic version of sabich, but I’ve shared some ideas for how I like to make it my own too!
What Is Sabich?
Sabich is a pita or laffa (flatbread) sandwich made with fried eggplant, boiled eggs, tahini sauce, hummus, and a tangy Israeli salad—a classic chopped salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and lemon juice commonly served across Israel.
This sandwich is a popular street food in Tel-Aviv thought to have been introduced to Israeli cuisine by immigrant Iraqi Jews. During Sabbath (also called Shabbat), Jewish people cannot participate in any cooking, so pre-boiled eggs and fried eggplant prepared ahead and kept in the fridge are the perfect ingredients to assemble in a sandwich—the pita isn’t heated—without breaking the no-work laws of Sabbath.
The Best Eggplant for Sabich
Use Italian or Globe—sometimes called American—eggplant. Their round shape is perfect for stuffing in pita, and their skin is firm enough to hold the flesh together when fried. Japanese or Chinese eggplants are too tender, narrow, and thin for this recipe.
When choosing eggplants, look for skin that is shiny and deep purple. It should feel firm and relatively heavy for its size. The stem should be green, not brown.
What Is Amba?
Amba is a traditional condiment served on sabich. It’s a tangy pickled mango sauce that has roots in India, and is very popular in Israel. While you can make it at home, it’s often store-bought. Check out your local Mediterranean or Indian grocery store for brands like Shemesh or Galil. If you can’t find it, don’t worry! This sabich is just as delicious without it.
My Tips for Making Sabich
- Use peanut, safflower, sunflower, canola, or grapeseed oil to fry the eggplant. Heat it to 375°F to ensure that the eggplant doesn’t burn, nor absorb too much oil.
- When boiling eggs, my rule of thumb is to boil the oldest eggs first. As the eggs age, they lose moisture, making them easier to peel. That’s why super fresh eggs tend to be difficult to peel. If you only have fresh eggs, add a pinch of baking soda to the boiling water and then, immediately transfer the boiled eggs into an ice bath. That’ll make them easier to peel.
How to Make It Your Own
The best part about sabich is that you can put your own unique spin on it. Here is some inspiration:
- The eggs can be hard-, soft-, or medium-boiled, but have fun experimenting with fried or scrambled eggs too.
- Add crumbled feta cheese or grilled halloumi.
- I love tossing the components of the sabich as a salad over fresh lettuce.
- Roast or air fry the eggplants if you prefer not to deep fry them.
How to Prep in Advance
Sabich is the perfect make-ahead meal. Fry the eggplant, boil and peel the eggs, and get your hummus ready for when hunger strikes. Store the components in separate containers for up to 4 days, and layer the fried eggplant in an airtight container with paper towels to absorb excess oil. The Israeli salad can also be made 1 days in advance, but tastes best when fresh.
For the Love of Eggplants
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Baba Ganoush
- Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
- Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Tahini Sauce
- Eggplant Caviar
Fry the eggplants:
Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set it aside.
Fill a large skillet with oil until it comes 1/4 inch up the sides. Set it over medium heat and heat to 375°F. Working in batches, fry the eggplant slices until tender in the center and golden brown on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total, flipping them once halfway through.
Make sure the oil comes up to 375°F before frying the next batch. You may need to add more oil too.
Transfer the fried eggplants onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle them with sea salt. Set aside.
Make the Israeli salad:
In a medium bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
Make the tahini sauce:
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and runny. Set aside.
Assemble the sabich:
In the center of a pita, spread 1 tablespoon hummus. Top with 2 to 3 pieces of fried eggplant, 1 egg sliced lengthwise or crosswise, 3 to 4 tablespoons Israeli salad, and a few pickles. Drizzle in the tahini sauce and amba, if using. Assemble the remaining sabich the same way.
Fold the pita in half and enjoy. This sandwich is meant to be messy!
Have leftovers or want to make extras? Refrigerate each component in separate containers for up to 4 days. They make for easy meals throughout the week.
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