About Sababa


Words by Tal Smith


When I left school I became more then interested in the food that my mother was making for our family. Food has always been a passion of my family’s and mine. The kitchen has always been the centre of our home. My mother who was born in Israel learnt her recipes from her mother, a Romanian immigrant and her mother-in-law, a Libyan immigrant.

But my father ate predominantly Libyan style food, which we started eating more of in our home. Living in Israel, a combination of different cultures and foods also influenced how my mother cooked. When they came to live in South Africa when I was very young, my family and myself continued to eat these Middle Eastern dishes until today.

My father has a Sunday breakfast ritual of cooking grilled halloumi, with home-made olives, chopped salads, fried eggs and fil felachuma, a spicy garlic paste we spread on bread. Even my brothers would get involved in the kitchen.


Food for the Saban family was a way of life that brought people together and seemed to stand out from the local cuisine. Friday night Sabbath is always a time we spend together as a family and with friends, chraime and mufrum are common dishes on our table. It was from this back-drop and the responses to our food that I believed Sababa was going to be able to introduce the food I grew up loving and making to the greater world.

Sababa the word in Hebrew is slang and used in conversation to mean ‘awesome’ ‘cool’ ‘great’. As well as a play on my family name Saban, it has the laid back feel of the kind of food and experience when you come into the shops.

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