Matbucha (Arabic: مطبوخة maṭbūkhah) is a dish made out of cooked tomatoes with roasted peppers and seasoned with garlic, chilli peppers and paprika. It’s name actually means “cooked salad” and so being a generic morrocan salad it has many variations.
This recipe is dedicated to Grandma Judith who would make this for family gatherings when I was young. When I asked for the recipe she simply said “You roast tomatoes and peppers in the oven and then cook them with olive oil, garlic and spicy paprika”.
Simple isn’t it?
The Matchbucha cooking process is somewhat similar to the technique you would use to make jams, only instead of sugar we’re adding sweet peppers and paprika and seasoning with chilli peppers for some extra warmness.
A good Matbucha should be sweet, and hot. But not that kind of hotness that sends you running for water or makes you take pride to your friends that you can eat it.
A kind of hotness that makes you alive, excited and asking for more.
Lets get to it…
- 1 cup of good quality olive oil
- 2 28oz cans of quality whole (1600gr) tomatoes
- 1 kg sweet red peppers — about 10 big ones (I like adding some Yellow\Orange ones too in order add nice colors to the end product)
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 spicy Jalapeño
- 3 tablespoons of sweet Paprika
Out first task is to burn the peppers. You can do it over the stove with a big cask iron pan or in the oven but I prefer an oven.
Heat the oven to grill (high heat) and place the (whole) peppers in on a baking pan inside the oven.
When the peppers start to turn black turn them over — we want them burnt on all sides.
Tip: if you’d like to add a smoky flavor place the peppers on top of a rack and add some water and a bit of Liquid Smoke to the pan under it. This will give the peppers a sweet, smoky aroma.
Remove from the oven and wait ~15 for the peppers to cool.
Do not wash in water, it’ll just wash their taste away…
I like to place them in a sealed container to keep all the juices from vaporising.
Peel the peppers from their burnt outer layer, remove the green stem and seeds and tear them apart by hand into into big pieces.
In a heavy cask iron pot add the olive oil, peppers and paprika.
Start the stove on medium heat, stir.
When the oil starts to heat up, parts of the peppers start to melt into it and we get an emulsion of tastes.
Add the Jalapeños and stir until it color changes to bright green.
Add the Garlic, and stir for about a minute.
Add the tomatoes and some salt and cook with the lid on for 1 hour.
Stir things around frequently so the tomatoes wont stick to the bottom.
Remove the lid and cook for 20 minutes more.
The purpose of this stage is to get rid of access liquids. We want to reach a consistency of a salad which should be something like Salsa.
The sauce is now thick and strong red with golden drops of olive oil spread on top — We have a Matbucha!
Let it cool to room temperature, the cooling process lets all the taste we extracted during cooking settle and blend together.
Once cool you can move it to a jar, pour some more olive oil on top and store in the fridge.
But wait, there’s more!
Though Matbucha is a slad usually served as a side I feel it also deserves to shine as its own dish. Like Hummus…
Matbucha Plate (“Hummus Style”)
Below is my Matbucha serving, inspired by something I ate at Eyal Shani’s¹ a long time ago. It turns the Matbucha into a dish on its own that could be great as an appetizer.
This dish is made out of 4 parts: Matbucha (obviously), with Tahini, A spicy Tomatoes Salad and a Hard Boiled Egg on Top.
- Matbucha — steaming hot
- 4 ripe red tomato
- 2 Jalapeños
- Tahini (Tahini paste, water, lemon, salt)²
- 1 hard-boiled Egg
- Challah\Pitta bread
Tahini — In a bowl add some Tahini tase (about 2 tablespoons).
Squize half the Lemon into the paste and add a bit of water.
Mix until the liquids are absorbed into the paste.
Continue the process of adding water and mixing until you reach the desired consistency which should be roughly the same as if you took some sour cream and mixed it around.
If you added too much water dont worry — you can always add more Tahini paste to fix the consistency.
Just make sure its not too liquid or too sour — we want to preserve the Tahini’s distinct nutty flavours.
(Depending of brand, even using the straight Tahini paste with very little to no water at all will play well)
Tomatoes Salad — Toss the Jalapeños in a frying pan with some Olive Oil until they start to brown. Remove and put in a sealed container.
Wait for 5 minutes, cut and remove the middle part and seed and then peel the burnt outer layer. Slice into small cubes.
Grate the Tomatoes into a bowl.
Thinly slice the Jalapeños and add to the bowl.
Add Salt to taste and a tiny bit of olive oil.
In a pasta bowl, place the Matbucha in wide circle and create a small crater in the middle. Pour some Tahini into the hot Matbucha. Place some of the Tomato Salad on top together with a slices Hard Boiled Egg.
Drizzle a bit of Olive Oil.
(¹) Eyal Shani is a famous Israeli chef known for his love to all things Tomatoes
(²) Tahini brands: Finding a decent Tahini in the US is hard but after trying a lot of different brands I can say that so far Tarazi Tahini is the most authentic one. You can find it at middle-eastern grocery stores.