Stories Behind the Menu: The Rich Ethnic Mosaic of Israeli Food

[anvplayer video=”5133673″ station=”998128″]

Chaz Sandifer of theNEWmpls created Stories Behind the Menu, a monthly event that takes you on a journey through food and storytelling. The goal is to bridge the cultural divide among people of different backgrounds, races, and religions by telling the stories of how food traditions developed in various cultures.

The first event takes place on Thursday, September 8th with Chef Zehorit Heilicher. Click here for more information. For tickets click here.

Chef Zehorit Heilicher, the creator of Mideast to Midwest, shares her recipe for a traditional Isreali dish.

Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Balkan Tapas

Serves 8 (Vegan)


2 medium Eggplants, sliced into 0.5″ rounds
6-8 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
6 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
(Or 1x 28oz can whole tomatoes, crushed)
100 grams tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-cup water
1.5 teaspoon granulated sugar
1.5-teaspoon paprika
1/4-teaspoon cayenne
1/2-teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Roast the eggplant: Heat the oven to 400F.

Place the eggplant slices on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle tablespoons olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.

  1. Prepare the Sauce: Heat a wide deep skillet on medium heat and add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the pepper slices. Sauté the pepper for about 5 minutes until the pepper turn golden.

Add the tomatoes, paste, garlic, water, and sugar, then season with the rest of the spices and salt and pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Lower the flame and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens.

  1. Cook the eggplant: Add the roasted eggplant slices into the sauce, stir them in and cook for 5 minutes longer, for the flavors to meld.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

  1. Serving: Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for about 4-5 days.

  1. Suggestions: This dish can serve as the basis for delicious Shakshouka; just bring to a simmer in a skillet and then poach eggs gently in the sauce.

Can be used as a dip with pita, or as a spread – the basis for sandwiches with meats, or even as sauce for pasta.