Spicy Matboucha

Amelia Saltsman
Recipe by
Amelia Saltsman

There are almost as many variations of and uses for the spicy tomato jam condiment known as salade cuite, or “cooked salad,” as there are people in Israel, Morocco, or Tunisia.

When my cousin Pazit married Moroccan Israeli soccer hero Avi Gabai, she learned from his sisters how to make all his favorite foods, including this version of matboucha. It adds zest to many a dish, including hummus, and is the foundation for that other Israeli-Tunisian-Moroccan favorite, the egg dish shakshuka. Be sure to try it with black-eyed peas.

Sauce tomatoes such as Roma, San Marzano, or Costoluto Genovese work best here. When good fresh tomatoes aren’t available, use canned crushed tomatoes instead.

This recipe can be easily doubled and freezes well.

2½ pounds (1.2 kg) meaty tomatoes, such as Roma, San Marzano, or Costoluto Genovese, or 1 can (28 ounces/800 g) crushed tomatoes
2 to 4 chiles, such as jalapeño or habanero or a mix, 2 to 4 ounces (55 to 115 g) total
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1½ teaspoons hot paprika, or to taste
¼ cup (2 fl ounces/60 ml) grapeseed or other mild oil
Kosher or sea salt
  • To peel the tomatoes, either use a swivel-blade vegetable peeler or immerse them in boiling water and slip off the skins. If you like, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze them to remove the seeds. Skip this step if the seeds don’t bother you. Chop the tomatoes into ½- to 1-inch (12-mm to 2.5-cm) pieces. You should have 3¼ to 3½ cups (585 to 630 g) altogether. Place them in a wide pot or a deep sauté pan.
  • Mince the chiles and add them to the pan along with some or all of their seeds for added heat. Add the garlic, stir in the paprika, and pour the oil over all. Start cooking the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat as necessary to keep it bubbling without burning, and cook until very thick and glossy, about 1 hour. Use a splatter screen to keep your stove clean, if you like.
  • Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and sugar, adding about 1 teaspoon of each. Let cool and transfer to 1 or 2 tightly capped jars. The condiment will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Staci Valentine

Amelia Saltsman is the daughter of a Romanian mother and an Iraqi father who met in the Israeli army and immigrated to Los Angeles, where she was born and raised. Her cooking reflects her eclectic background, with the diverse flavors and cultural touchstones that have made her award-winning first book, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, a beloved classic. Amelia's name is synonymous with intuitive, seasonal cooking, and she is regularly sought out for her expertise by publications such as Bon AppétitCooking LightVegetarian TimesU.S. AirwaysFIt PregnancyThe Jewish Journal, and Los Angeles Times. She is a frequent guest on KCRW's "Good Food with Evan Kleiman" and a longtime advocate for small family farms. Amelia lives with her family in Santa Monica.