Yotam Ottolenghi's Sabih

Yotam Ottolenghi's sabih

    Iraqi immigrants to Israel in the early 1950s brought with them the fascinating combination of fried aubergine and hard-boiled egg stuffed into fresh pitta (along with plenty of other big-flavoured ingredients). It sounds weird, but it's one of the most exciting street foods you could wish to come across. This is a plated version. Zhoug is a wonderful Yemenite green chilli sauce, but to save time, a good commercial savoury chilli sauce will do. Other traditional elements are a sharp mango pickle and a good hummus, so add them, too, if you fancy. Serves four.
    2 large aubergines
    About 300ml sunflower oil
    4 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into 1cm-thick slices
    Salt and black pepper
    For the tahini sauce:
    100g tahini paste
    80ml water
    20ml lemon juice
    1 small garlic clove, crushed
    For the salad:
    2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
    2 mini cucumbers, cut into 1cm dice
    2 spring onions, thinly sliced
    1½ tbsp chopped parsley
    2 tsp lemon juice
    1½ tbsp olive oil
    Using a vegetable peeler, peel off strips of aubergine skin from top to bottom, so they end up like a zebra, with alternating black-and-white stripes. Cut both aubergines widthways into 2.5cm-thick slices.
    Heat the sunflower oil in a wide pan. Carefully – the oil spits – fry the aubergine in batches until nice and dark, turning once, for six to eight minutes; add oil if needed as you cook the batches. When done, the aubergine should be completely tender in the centre. Remove from the pan, leave to drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with salt.
     For the tahini sauce, put the tahini paste, water, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix well, and add a little more water, if needed, so its consistency is slightly runnier than honey.
    Make the salad by mixing the tomato, cucumber, spring onion, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    To serve, place a slice of bread on each plate ( I like everything inside a Pita Bread. Delicious! Nitza).
     Spoon a tablespoon of tahini sauce over each, then arrange overlapping slices of aubergine on top. Drizzle over some more tahini, without completely covering the aubergines. Season each egg slice, and lay on top of the aubergine. Drizzle more tahini on top and spoon over as much zhoug as you like – be careful, it's hot! Serve the salad on the side (or my style,  salad goes in to the Pita Bread. Nitza) spoon a little on top of each Sabih, too, if you like.
    This is not a dish that would traditionally be drunk with alcohol, so I'd stick to a soft drink..
    Enjoy friends. L’hitraot !
    Nitza Gilad, yours at programs@chicago.mfa.gov.il