Matbucha | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Makes 3½ cups

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One of the biggest stars of Friday night dinner in my house is definitely the Matbucha. My mama makes this tomato and pepper mezze especially for Friday, and by 5pm (after 2–3 hours of cooking) the whole house is filled with an intoxicating peppery-garlicky smell. I wait until my mama is off-guard and sneak a preview with a piece of Challah. She uses fresh tomatoes, but in this recipe I’ve swapped them for canned. It works just as well and saves an hour of cooking.

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5 tbsp canola oil

3 red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch square pieces

3 Romano peppers (the pointy red ones — if you can’t find them, you can use an additional 3 regular ones), cored, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch square pieces


1-2 red chiles, finely chopped (depending on how hot you like it)

3-4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1/2 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds

14.5 oz can good-quality chopped tomatoes, strained

1 tsp sweet paprika

Challah, to serve


1. The secret of success for this mezze is to keep it on a gentle simmer. Heat a large skillet (the heavier the better) over a medium-low heat. Add the oil, peppers and a pinch of salt, and let them sweat until they collapse. This should take about 35–40 minutes.

2. Add the chiles and cook for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. At this point your kitchen should be filled with a garlicky aroma, but we’re not there yet, so don’t dip your Challah! Add the tomatoes and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. The color should become darker and the aroma more intense.

3. This is the time to add the paprika and salt to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning if necessary. This is a great base for many of the recipes to follow. You can eat it hot or cold, and it will keep in the fridge, in a sterilized airtight container (see p.24), for up to a week. Now for Challah…

Reprinted from The Palomar Cookbook. Text copyright © ZLC London Ltd 2016. Photography copyright © Helen Cathcart 2016. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.