Middle Eastern Salads: Matbucha and Babaganoush

June 27, 2012

Growing up, I thought everyone's Shabbat table boasted a variety of Middle Eastern cooked salads. I got my culture shock when I went to college and got invited to various homes from different backgrounds. Some homes served the standard hummus and tahini, store-bought nonetheless. Some had nothing but horseradish. And then some had an assortment of doughy appetizers. I couldn't help wonder, what do they eat their challah with?

Taking that first bite of fluffy, airy challah smothered in a little bit of babaganoush and (a lot) of madbucha is something I look forward to every single week. The different colors and flavors, as well as the textures and spices make these salads a weekly staple on my Shabbat table.

In the next few posts, I'll share with you the recipes to some of my favorite Middle Eastern salads. From homemade tahini, to roasted eggplant and spiced beets. If you've never made them, I hope you will push yourself to. Some are easy and others more "laborious," but all are absolutely worth it.

I'll start with my favorite of all: Matbucha

and Babaganoush

What are your favorite Shabbat salads? What do you like to eat challah with?


This salad involves numerous steps and requires a long cooking time on a low fire. Therefore, I usually make a large batch and freeze half, so I only have to make it every other week.

24 roma tomatoes, roasted, skin peeled off
6 red bell peppers, roasted, skin peeled off
2 jalapenos, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of oil
3 TB paprika
salt and pepper

1. With your oven on broil, roast the tomatoes and bell pepper until skin is blackened. Make sure they are fully roasted on all sides. Remove from the oven and cover to let the steam facilitate the removal of the skin. Peel and dice the tomatoes and peppers as small as you can.
2. Heat the oil in a 4 quart pot on medium heat, add the jalapeno and sautee for a minute.
3. Add the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and spices.
4. With a potato masher, smash everything together so you get a pureed mixture. Don't worry if there's a lot of liquid.
5. Let the mixture bubble and boil, and reduce the heat to medium low for about 45-60 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals to ensure the bottom doesn't burn.
6. The madbucha is ready when the mixture becomes a thick paste and no liquid remains.

exhausted yet? yes, there are many steps. But there are also a few shorcuts:
1) instead of using fresh tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes that are already peeled and diced
2) instead of roasting the peppers, you can leave them raw and sautee them in the oil for a few minutes with the jalapeno

but sadly, these shortcuts do not yield the same results. If you have the time, I do suggest making it the longer way. The difference is discernible.



1 large eggplant
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TB of mayonnaise
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper

1. Either directly over a fire or under the broiler, char the skin of the eggplant until black. You will think it's totally burnt, but really the inside is nicely cooked and roasted.
2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise and spoon out the meat inside into a sieve. Let most of the liquid drip out.
3. In a small bowl, mix the eggplant, garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
4. Serve.

Tip: if you like it very creamy, you can also put everything into a food processor and mix until pureed.


  1. I love how simple the ingredients are in these dishes but they are packed with so much fresh flavor! I've made my own madbucha before and it is totally worth the extra steps!

  2. I love both of these and always have at minimum Hummus or sometimes just Tehina if I ran out of time to make it. Now we also have olives and pickles and I have started making lots of different pickled veggies to add to it and other salads, I could make this the meal. I can't wait to see more ideas.

  3. I have to say, madbucha is my favorite of all Israeli dips. This recipe look very similar to a recipe a friend made for me when I was pregnant with my first son. On Shabbos, I would walk up to her house (we lived in the same building) and there it was. Hers was a bit more chunky, but with all the peppers,garlic and tomatoes like yours. It burnt my mouth a bit, but it was so delicious I even begged for some to take home! Thank you for a pleasant trip down memory lane!

  4. I usually buy matbucha, but will definitely need to try making it soon. It's one of my favorites. These look great!

  5. I love matboucha and have never thought to use it as a shmear for challah! Great idea and your recipes sounds wonderful. I have been disappointed in my matboucha recipes, so will try this. Btw, I have to confess, for me, challah with butter can't be beat.

  6. we call this the Israeli salad course in our house and we love it and now that we will soon be Israelis IY"H we will fit in well :-) but really I don't need the challah with this that's how much love these salads!

  7. so nice to hear the various ways you enjoy your challah!


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