'Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.' Harriet Van Horne
One of my greatest joys in life is to cook here in my little Berlin kitchen.
Exploring the vibrant neighbourhood of which I live and sourcing ingredients- fresh turmeric root from the Vietnamese Supermarket just down the road or pomegranate molasses from the Turkish market on the corner from my house, or fantastic organic produce from the Biomarkt across from me.
A cuisine that has become more and more present here in Berlin is that of Israeli origin. As someone that follows a largely vegan diet, Israeli food is a dream.
In my mind, tahini is nectar of the gods and an ingredient found in abundance within the Israeli kitchen.
Sabich is something that was introduced to me by some of the amazing Israeli restaurants we have here in Berlin such as Kanaan and Sababa. It is essentially a sandwich with unctious roasted aubergine, luscious tahini sauce, sliced boiled egg teamed with a crunchy salad.
The ingredient which makes this dish altogether magical is the 'amba' sauce, you will not always find it included, but in my opinion, is what makes Sabich so special.
'Amba' is a fragrant mango sauce made with cumin and turmeric and its flavour reminds you that it is also used in Indian cuisine with the name 'amba' derived from the Sanskrit for mango. It is also present in Iraqi cuisine and with Israel being a melting pot of many cultures including Iraqi, this is likely how it came to be part of their cuisine today.
With this blog I shall share with you my interpretation of this wondrous dish, taking aspects of all those I have sampled here in Berlin and putting them together.
2 eggs (omit for a vegan version of Sabich)
bunch of fresh parsley
1 yellow pepper
2 spring onions
1 fresh mango
300g dried mango
cumin (1 tablespoon- whole seeds or ground)
turmeric (1 tablespoon of ground)
fenugreek (1 teaspoon of ground)
2 cloves garlic
pickles (gherkins, turnips etc) to serve
First get your aubergines on the go by slicing them either into 1cm thick rounds or simply each aubergine slice in half length ways, scoring the flesh and then (either way) placing them on a roasting tray and rub with olive oil. Roast for roughly 25 minutes or until soft and golden in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
While this is happening, its time to make the amba sauce.
Prepare your fresh mango by slicing in half around the stone and removing the flesh with a spoon and roughly chop.
In a small saucepan add 1.5 cups of water, 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of rice syrup and the juice of 1 lemon and put over a high heat.
Add the fresh and dried mango, bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the mango is softened.
Pop your eggs onto boil according to how you like them!
Roughly chop the garlic and then fry in a small pan until soft, adding the cumin seeds, turmeric and ground fenugreek. Add to the mango.
Take it off the heat and carefully pour into a blender, adding salt and pepper, whizz until smooth.
For the salad- roughly chop the tomato, onion and pepper to bite-size pieces. Peel the cucumber and de-seed, roughly chop as the other ingredients and add everything to a bowl. Roughly chop the parsley and throw into the salad. To dress- add a glug of olive oil, vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper.
Tahini sauce- into a small bowl, pour in a cup of tahini. Add a little water and with a fork mix into the tahini until it looks like something has gone very wrong and its curdled. Keep stirring in a little water at a time until it is creamy, smooth and lighter in colour. It should be of a pourable consistency. Add a good squeeze of lemon and salt.
Toast or heat your pittas in the oven. Once the aubergines are nicely roasted, take from the oven and assemble your Sabich. You could simply just stuff the pitta with all the ingredients and munch away, but I like to make it pretty by placing the whole aubergine half on top of the warm pitta, drizzle with the sauces, scatter over the sliced boiled egg and a little salad on the side, pickles, eating it with a knife and fork. Perhaps this is sabich sacrilege but it makes me happy.
בְּתֵיאָבוֹן! (enjoy your meal!)