Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #36 – Matbucha

Dee –March’s Tasting Jerusalem theme was extended into April, during which time I was struck by an attack of the dreaded writer’s block, so this is the first update in a while.

Matbucha was announced as May 2016’s featured ingredient at the start of the month, and needed a little research, as I hadn’t heard of it before.  I didn’t spot it in the Jerusalem recipe book, but a quick search on-line revealed it to be a spicy tomato and pepper sauce.  The word Matbucha is Arabic, meaning cooked salad, and the recipe has its origins in North Africa, arriving in Jerusalem via Jews from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya who had emigrated to Israel.

As mentioned previously, there isn’t a recipe for it in the Jerusalem recipe book, so I decided to undertake something that we don’t include often in our Tasting Jerusalem project:  A self-designed recipe.

I wanted the Matbucha to be the focus of the recipe, so included a couple of optional garnishes with it.  The finished product would work well as part of a Meze, where Matbucha now appears in Israeli cuisine.

The original recipe was written on a scrap of paper as I prepared it, and I was careful to keep my notes decipherable, but the challenge is to see if I can present them in a way that will make sense to others, should they wish to try it.  Let’s see how we get on…

Matbucha with Shallot, Chickpea & Potato Hash
(Serves 4)

For the Matbucha
2 Red Bell Peppers, halved lengthways, seeds removed
1 Red Onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 Garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 Red Chillies, halved lengthways, deseeded and finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Paprika (not smoked)
400g Tinned Tomatoes
4 Medium fresh Tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

-Place the halves of pepper under a preheated grill and leave them under until the skins turn black
-Remove them from the grill and place them in a food bag.  Tie it up and leave to cool.
-While the peppers are cooling, heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion.  Fry until softened.
-When the onion has softened, add the garlic and chillies and cook for another couple of minutes.
-Add the paprika and stir to coat the onion mixture.
-Blitz the tinned tomatoes in a food processor, add them to the pan and stir the mixture to combine.
-Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and stir again.
-Remove the peppers from the bag, peel away the skins, chop the flesh into small chunks and add them to the pan.  Stir to combine.
-Let the mixture cook on a low heat until there is no water bubbling up.  It will take at least an hour and needs to be stirred regularly and checked for seasoning.
-Serve warm.

For the Hash
250g Tinned Chick Peas
2 Shallots, peeled and finely chopped
250g Potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes, the same size as the chickpeas
Rapeseed Oil
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

-Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/425F/218C
-Parboil the potatoes for around 5 minutes, then drain and coat them in rapeseed oil and season them with salt and black pepper.
-Put them in the oven to roast for 25 minutes.
-While the potatoes are cooking, fry the shallots in a little oil on a low heat until the edges are just starting to char.
-Once the potatoes and shallots are cooked, just before serving, mix them together with the chick peas in a large frying pan and warm the mixture through.  Check for seasoning before serving.
-Serve warm

To Serve
Serve on small plates, Matbucha first and the hash on top.  Don’t cover the Matbucha completely.  Leave enough showing for contrasting colours
Garnish with olive oil, herbs, spices of your choice.
In our picture above we used crumbled feta to garnish one dish and a mixture of chopped parsley, olive oil and sumac for the other.  Also shown are a couple of pita breads made with Khorasan flour and White Bread flour.  I included a recipe for Pitas as part of Tasting Jerusalem #29 (click here for details)

I hope this recipe makes sense.  I’m glad I was able to put it into a format that I understood as I was pleased with how it turned out.  Perhaps next time I will add more chilli but that’s just my own preference.  It is fully flavoursome and tasty without the extra heat.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)


  1. This is a terrific recipe! Love the combo of fresh and canned tomatoes and mixing it with the hash AND making the hash w garbanzos and potatoes and shallots - getting so many ideas from this! Thanks for powering through your writer's block and for keeping up with our slightly irregular Tasting Jerusalem postings. We still have so many great topics to come!

    1. Thank you, so glad you like the recipe. The hash was made up quite quickly: I wanted to keep it simple so as to keep the Matbucha as the 'star' of the dish.
      Looking forward to the next topic :-)