Why It Works
- Salting the diced tomato drains off excess water, concentrating the flavor and improving the texture.
- Sprinkling the fried eggplant with salt while it's still hot ensures that it will adhere.
Falafel may get all the attention, but the sabich, another popular Tel Aviv snack food, has won my heart. Filled with moist slices of fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, a generous layer of creamy hummus, crunchy Israeli pickles, and Israeli salad, and drizzled with tahini sauce and amba, a pickled-mango sauce, it's all you could want in any sandwich, and more.
- 2 plum tomatoes (7 ounces; 200g), cored and diced
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- 3/4 pound Italian eggplant (about 1 medium eggplant; 350g), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 1/2 large seedless cucumber (7 ounces; 200g), diced
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cored head cabbage (7 ounces; 200g), thinly shredded
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) white wine vinegar
- 4 fresh rounds pita bread, warmed and split just enough to form a pocket
- 3/4 cup homemade or store-bought hummus (6 ounces; 170g)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) homemade or store-bought tahini sauce (note that tahini and tahini sauce are different products)
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- Israeli pickles, for serving (see note)
- Amba sauce, for serving (see note)
Place tomatoes in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Let stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, fry eggplant slices, rotating for even browning and turning once halfway through, until golden on both sides and tender throughout, about 5 minutes; lower heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer eggplant to a paper towel–lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
Transfer tomatoes to a medium bowl and discard drained liquid. Add cucumber, lemon juice, and parsley to tomatoes. Season Israeli salad with salt to taste and mix well.
In a medium bowl, toss cabbage with vinegar and season with salt.
In each pita pocket, smear 3 tablespoons (45ml) of hummus in an even layer. Layer 2 to 3 slices fried eggplant on top of each. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon (15ml) tahini sauce, then top with sliced eggs, Israeli pickles, and remaining tahini sauce. Spoon some of the Israeli salad into each pita, drizzle with amba, and serve.
Amba, a sauce made from pickled mango, and Israeli pickles, which are spicier and more tart than American bread-and-butter pickles, are available from international and Israeli grocers and online.