When I was researching eggplant recipes for my book, Entrée to Judaism, I was amazed to see the progression of recipes for smoked eggplant that evolved in Jewish communities around the Mediterranean. This recipe does not use eggplant but it does show the creativity of Middle Eastern and Israeli cooks to capitalize on the smoky flavor imparted into charred vegetables.
You will find this dish, of Moroccan origin, on salitim (salad) tables throughout Israel. Serve with warm Laffa bread to sop up the juices.
- Heat a 3-quart saucepan over high heat for 15 seconds. Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat for another 15 seconds. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds until garlic has softened and flavored the oil. Do not let garlic burn.
- Add the diced pepper, tomatoes, jalapeño and salt to the pan. Cook, partially covered at a simmer for 45 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is gone and the mixture is thick and lumpy. Stir often to prevent sticking.
- Combine the remaining olive oil and hot paprika and stir into the matboucha until it is fully blended. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Adjust taste with more salt and/or crushed pepper flakes or a little sugar.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with laffa, pita or crudité.
Note: Matboucha tastes even better the next day. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Tina Wasserman is the author of Entrée to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora and Entrée to Judaism for Families and is a visiting lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout the country. She serves on the boards of ARZA and URJ Camp Newman, and is a member of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX. Her recipes can be found at Cooking and More and throughout ReformJudaism.org, where she serves as food editor. Tina can be reached for congregational and organizational events through her website.