Sabih with spiced chickpeas

Sabih with spiced chickpeas

sabih spiced chickpeas macro

I’ve been ogling sabih in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem for a while now, but I was missing some ingredients and so I never got round to making it.

Then a few weeks ago I got a message from one of my readers (I cannot believe anyone reads my stream of consciousness 😉 ), Golan, who was visiting Paros. Duncan and I met up for coffee with him and his partner, Danny, and that meeting put a big simile on my face. They were both very nice and easy to talk to and they were into good food so we had plenty to talk about. They were also so kind that they brought me a huge jar of delicious tahini straight from Israel. I can easily get tahini here, but the one I got from them was so much more delicate and creamier than any of the Greek ones I’ve tried. Frankly, I am happy to eat it with a spoon with a touch of maple syrup or pomegranate molasses mixed in. So now that I have this luscious tahini and the savoury mango pickle, which I managed to get my hands on while in Athens, I’ve had to put both of them to a good use, quick! My thoughts turned to a sabih…

To me, this sandwich feels like such a perfect metaphor for Israeli food. Each group of Israeli immigrants brought something to the table – fried aubergine and hard boiled egg (which I substituted with spicy chickpeas), came from Iraqi immigrants. Fragrant, herbaceous and very spicy zhoug sauce, which Ottolenghi explains as Middle-Eastern ketchup, was brought by Yemenite Jews. Salty and vinegary mango pickle was also introduced by Iraqi Jews but it is derived from Indian cuisine, with its classic flavours of mango, turmeric, mustard and fenugreek. Finally, a simple chopped salad (a version of which is found pretty much everywhere around the Mediterranean Sea) and tahini sauce are Israeli staples.

This melting pot of a sandwich is a bit of revelation in my books. The simple components come together in a meal bursting with flavour! It’s so easy to make too! Granted, it does require quite a few ingredients and processes, BUT you can make pretty much each component in advance and assemble the sandwich on each day of the week. There are so many palate-tingling flavours in there that you won’t get bored.

sabih spiced chickpeas fried aubergines

sabih spiced chickpeas

sabih spiced chickpeas hand

45 min
30 min
45 min
30 min


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained well
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder, adjust to taste
  • fine sea salt, to taste

ZHOUG (spicy herb condiment)

  • 35 g / 1 cup packed fresh coriander leaves
  • 20 g / ½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1-2 hot green chillies
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • a pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water


  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ large garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium spring onion, sliced
  • a few stalks of parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice, to taste


  • savoury mango pickle (also known as amba)
  • 4 round pitas (GF if necessary)
  • classic hummus (recipe here), optional


  1. Cut aubergines into 2.5 cm / 1″ slices. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and set aside for 30 minutes for any excess moisture and bitterness to go.
  2. After 30 minutes, wipe the salt off with a piece of kitchen towel. Blot the slices on the kitchen towel until completely dry.
  3. Heat up a medium non-stick pan with 1 tbsp of oil. Meanwhile, sprinkle the first batch of sliced aubergine with a thin layer of cornstarch – this is optional and not a traditional thing to do, but it minimises the amount of oil the aubergine soaks up during frying and gives it a nice, delicately, crispy texture on the outside. Repeat with the remaining aubergine slices as the first batch finishes frying (sprinkling cornstarch in advance makes aubergine get slippery so wait till just before you are ready to place it on a hot pan).
  4. Once the oil gets medium-hot, place the aubergine slices on the pan and fry them gently until they are browned (about 3-4 min), then flip them to the other side and continue in the same manner. Once you are done with the first batch, continue with the remaining batches adding oil as needed.


  1. Make sure your chickpeas are completely cooled (if you cooked them yourself from scratch) and drained.
  2. Mix all the spices together with a few pinches of salt in a small bowl.
  3. Heat up a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium-high heat. Pour olive oil on the hot pan and wait a few seconds for the oil to heat up.
  4. Chuck the drained chickpeas into the hot oil and roast the chickpeas for a few minutes, until lightly browned here and there. Make sure you stir them often.
  5. Stir the spice mix in and coat the chickpeas in it. Take the pan off the heat and allow the spices to finish off roasting in the residual heat (ground spices can burn really easily and become bitter). Check the seasoning and set aside.


  1. Place the tahini in a small bowl. Add enough water to achieve a creamy and almost pourable consistency sauce – the amount of water depends on the type of your tahini. Mix the two together vigorously.
  2. Season with garlic, maple syrup, salt, pepper and lemon juice (adjust acidity to your palate). Set aside.


  1. Place coriander, parsley and deseeded chilli in a food processor along with a clove of garlic and all of the spices.
  2. Process, drizzling in some olive oil (I used about 4 tbsp), water and lemon juice (if you like). Take care not to overprocess as this sauce is meant to be a bit on the chunky side (it’s traditionally made by hand).
  3. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.


  1. Core tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop the fleshy part into a small dice.
  2. Place diced tomatoes and cucumber into a small bowl, mix in sliced spring onions and chopped parsley. Dress with a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Top warmed-up pitas with hummus (if using), fried aubergine, spicy chickpeas, Israeli salad and condiments (tahini sauce, zhoug and mango pickle).

This recipe (the zhoug recipe, in particular) has been adapted from the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook Jerusalem – one of my favourite cookbooks.

14 g
42 g
6 g
16 g
50 g
*per serving
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7 reviews, 22 comments
I have never commented on a blog before, but I just had to say that this was the most wonderful flavour that I have had in a long time! The combination of flavours is so amazing; try not to leave out the hot pickled mangos. It’s the best and I have shared it with every foodie that I know.
    Thank you, Sandra. I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed this dish so much. x Ania
Great recipe! Love Ottolenghi so much - have all the cook books. We made this last night and we had no eggplant but too many zucchinis so we used those instead and it worked out well. I got mango pickles from an Asian market nearby and finally got a chance to use them. The condiments are fantastic. Worth the work.
    Thanks Shirley, I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed them and glad that we share the love for Ottolenghi's style :) Ania
I'm just adding a comment about zhoug. I love hot spices and made a much simpler recipe one summer. - basically green chilis, parsley and garlic with an oil and lemon dressing - heavy on the chilis. Good in small portions as a relish. I was working as in an engineer in a factory; when talking to one of the factory workers we found that we both loved hot food. I brought him a small jar of zhoug and he shared it with friends at work. They did like it but they decided that I must have a cast iron mouth , throat and stomach. :D
Being men, they didn't sample it delicately but shoveled it into their mouths.
M Cira:
Hey love the recipes! This one was a delicious lunch!! The only thing that would make your website even better would be adding the macros/nutritional information of your meals to the recipe!
    Thank you for your kind words - I am glad you like it. I hear you but unfortunately, I am unable to have this information incorporated in the website for the time being. Ania
Thank you so much for this recipe, it brought back some very happy memories form when I lived in Israel over 35 years ago .
    I'm so glad to hear that, Susanne! So happy they made you warm and fuzzy. I love how food can be a great time travelling vehicle :) . Ania
Pauline Simpson:
This took time to make because of the different components but worth it and all the flavours were spot on. Coating the eggplant in cornflour was a great idea to make it lightly crispy yum! I didn't have any mango chutney so used some fresh mango mixed with some lime pickle which worked well. This was a hit in a sandwich loving household. Thanks
    I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed the end result, Pauline! And thank you for taking the time to review and rate the recipe - much appreciated! x Ania
Can this be made with thai eggplant or bitter ball eggplant? I'm searching for ways to use my CSA bounty this week.
    Hi Kayla,
    I haven't tried, but I don't see why not. Ania
I found this on Pinterest over the weekend and just made it. Wow! It was just delicious and we will certainly be making again- very often. I did homemade pittas, just equal quantities of self raising flour and yoghurt, plus a little oregano. Then rolled out and cooked in a flat pan.
Wasn’t sure whether it was worth doing all the extras, but adds so much flavour.
Thanks for the blog!
    I'm delighted to hear that, Louise! And thanks for taking the time to leave feedback, much appreciated! Ania
Five stars, chef!
It was steaming hot yesterday but I had already invited a bunch of people for dinner. I didn't feel like spending too much time bent over the stove and was looking for something that had a few fun elements that I could just put together. We don't get amba here, I didn't have parsley so subbed for fresh coriander, and I couldn't find pitas at the local grocer's but got piadinas instead, and, still, it was a stellar meal. We ended with sorbet, chilled wine and fruit.
I will definitely be making this again.
Thank you so much for sharing.
    Aw, that's lovely to hear! Thank you although sounds like the credit is yours more than mine ;) Ania
This was really good. I now like eggplant! Thanks for your recipes😘
    Aw, my pleasure! So pleased to hear that it turned out well. Ania
Wow, thanks for this amazing take on Ottolenghi inspired dish - already a firm favourite in our family , have made it 4 times since the end of summer already and the leftover sauces are delicious with pretty much anything else. Have made just about everything in his books and like the twist you gave this one. I will be watching out for your new stuff too. Thank you.
    Aw, thank you so much for your kind words!! I am so pleased to hear that. I am a massive fan of his cooking too! Ania
This is on my must-make list...but I have zero chance of finding mango pickle. Can you suggest a substitute?
    Glad to hear that, Marie. This is a hard one as it really has a very unique flavour - very salty, sour and spicy. I haven't really had anything like it before. Perhaps finely sliced preserved lemons would do the trick. Hope that helps! Ania
Lynsey || One More Slice:
This looks utterly delicious and so pretty! Amazing presentation. Bookmarking this for a later date!
    Thanks, Lynsey! :) Ania
Oh Sabich. That is our go to after beach food when in Tel Aviv. Both my kids are living there now and taunt me with photos. I think that your version Ania looks wonderful. As usual the photos are stunning. Ottolengi's books really are visualy inspiring.
One of my sister's in law is Syrian, one Iranian, another is Iraqi , and my my mother-in-law is Egyptian and so the meals at their houses are spectacular.
All the semiotic peoples of the region have lived there for thousands of years and no one has claim over a chopped cucumber salad. Calling it Israeli is just fine. Food should unite.
    Thanks so much, Hanne! I am dying to visit Tel Aviv, I've heard it's stunning and amazing for vegan food too - so jealous of your kids! :) And I'm with you, food SHOULD unite! Absolutely! x Ania
I am going to try this and soon.I just would like to know why would you call a salad "Israeli Salad" when it has Lebanese cucumbers in it. People in the middle east have been eating this salad since the dinosaurs were roaming the plains.
    Hi Hady,
    I'm so glad you will try the recipe soon! It is called 'Isreali Salad' because this recipe is based on a recipe by Isreali chef Yotam Ottolenghi in his cookbook of Isreali food that is called Jerusalem (which is in Isreal). As we explained in the recipe, just about every Mediterranean country has its own version of the salad. BTW The dinosaurs span from the Triassic to the Cretaceous era which ranges from 250 million years BC to around 66 million years BC and humans only really originated 200 thousand years ago. There is a gap of approximately 55 million years between the dinosaurs and humankind, so I don't imagine people in the Middle East were sharing their salad with a Brachiosaurus no matter what it was called. Cheers!
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