Watch the video: Matbucha is a flavorful cooked salad


When it comes to the rich tapestry of Jewish traditions, few things evoke a sense of warmth and togetherness quite like the celebration of Shabbat. Gathering with family and friends to welcome the day of rest, prayers and the sharing of a festive meal is an integral part of Jewish culture.

One dish that has become synonymous with Shabbat, in addition to the Moroccan fish I wrote about earlier (look for the recipe at, is matbucha, a cooked Mediterranean salad.

Matbucha’s roots can be traced back to the Jewish communities of North Africa, particularly Morocco and Tunisia. The name matbucha is derived from the Arabic word  “mtbukha,” which means “cooked salad.”

As Jewish communities migrated and dispersed throughout the world, this culinary delight found its way into Jewish homes in Israel and beyond.

In Israel during Shabbat dinner, there is often a variety of cooked salads, including hummus, tahini, baba ghanoush and egg salad. Matbucha is one of the most popular.

The dish is made from tomatoes and red bell peppers, and a medley of herbs and spices. The simple combination of fresh vegetables, oil, garlic and a dash of spice gives matbucha its unique and enticing flavor profile.

The classic matbucha recipe calls for roasting the tomatoes and bell peppers, and takes around 2-3 hours to prepare. However, in my family, we skip the roasting step to make the dish as fast as possible – 45 minutes – and use only one pot.

Shabbat is often referred to as the “Sabbath Queen.” The vibrant red color of matbucha symbolizes the regal presence of the Sabbath Queen at the Shabbat table. The spices reflect the richness and diversity of life, reminding us of the joys and challenges we encounter during the week. Shabbat offers a respite from the ordinary, allowing us to savor life’s blessings.

While matbucha can be enjoyed with various dishes, it has become an essential accompaniment to the traditional Shabbat challah. The bread’s slightly sweet taste and soft texture makes it an ideal complement to the savory and tangy salad.

As you gather around the Shabbat table with your loved ones, let matbucha, hummus, matzah ball soup and challah be a reminder of the beauty of tradition, the joy of togetherness and the richness of life’s flavors.



10 large ripe peeled tomatoes, each cut into 4 pieces

1 large red bell pepper, sliced into small cubes

1 jalapeno, or other spicy pepper, sliced into thin circles, including seeds

1 medium head garlic, all the cloves minced

3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon bouillon powder (optional)

1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)


Peel the tomatoes, cut into four pieces, and put them in a large pot, leaving the seeds in. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper, cut the pepper into small cubes, and add to the pot.

Slice the jalapeno pepper into thin circles, including the seeds, and add to pot. Peel and mince the whole head of garlic, and add to pot.

Add the oil, paprika, salt, bouillon powder and sugar, if desired, to the pot, and turn the stove on to high heat.

Crush everything with a potato masher, and mix frequently.

Continue to cook and mix until the mixture thickens, about 30 minutes.  The matbucha is ready after all the liquid has evaporated.

If desired, you may remove some of the oil before serving with challah.

ELIHAY SKITAL is the Israeli shaliach (emissary) to the Rhode Island community. 


food, Cooking with Elihay