Galayet Bandora is a traditional Levantine side dish that is simple, delicious and quite healthy. Fresh ripe tomatoes are fried, or sauteed, with extra virgin olive oil, spicy hot peppers and pungent garlic. Enjoy it with warm pita bread and pair it with my caramelized eggplant hummus, labneh balls or roasted eggplant dip for your next get-together or party.
What is Galayet Bandora
Galayet Bandora is a delicious traditional Levantine dish that is popular in Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. It is a simple yet flavorful tomato stew made with ripe fresh tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, and olive oil.
Galayet Bandora is often served as a side dish alongside main courses, such as grilled meats or rice dishes, and is typically eaten with pita bread. Some recipes even include cubed beef. My recipe is simple, delicious and vegan.
Anglicizing Arabic words can result in different English spellings, depending on the dialect of the speaker. The spelling may differ based on dialect so you’ll sometimes see this recipe spelled like qalayet bandora, qalayet banadoora, alayet bandora or a combination. The word alayet roughly translates to “fried” or “to be fried”. Bandora is the arabic word for tomato!
A Note on Seasonality
As tomatoes are the main ingredient in this sauteed tomato recipe, you want to make sure you’re selecting the most flavorful and ripe tomatoes you can get your hands on. You can make this recipe any time of year, but I prefer to make it during the summer months when my homegrown tomatoes are coming in from the garden daily.
If you do choose to make this in the off-season, choose Roma or paste-type tomatoes. They will have less liquid and more flesh to them.
This recipe is so incredibly simple and versatile, but it all starts with these few ingredients.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Tomatoes: Select ripe, delicious, local and in-season paste-type tomatoes (Roma, San Marzano, Amish paste or others). You can use regular types of tomatoes too but you might have to cook the dip down for longer to get to the right consistency.
Extra virgin olive oil: There is absolutely no substitution. This recipe has very few ingredients so make sure to use the best you have on hand.
Jalapeno: You can use any type of green chili here such as serrano peppers or even Thai bird chili. The choice is yours but be careful because different chili peppers will have different heat levels. You can always add more heat to this dish, but you can’t take it out without diluting it. If you’re making it for kids, you can use sweet green pepper instead.
Garlic: For me, garlic is a must. If you’re worried about this dish being too garlicky, simply use fewer cloves. Or if you have roasted or confit garlic on hand, you can use that.
Pine nuts: Fried pine nuts give this dish a nice crunch and texture. If you are not a fan of pine nuts, you can use slivered almonds. You can also omit the nuts entirely.
How to Make Galayet Bandora
See the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
1. Blanch Tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make a small X-shaped cut on the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife. Drop the tomatoes into the hot water carefully. Wait 30-60 seconds and carefully remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Prepare Tomatoes: Let the tomatoes cool slightly and then carefully peel the skins. Chop the tomatoes into large chunks and set aside.
3. Fry Tomatoes. To a medium sized frying pan set on medium-high heat, add olive oil. When the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the chopped hot peppers and garlic. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Continue to cook on medium-low heat, stirring once in a while, until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.
4. Fry Garnish. In a small frying pan set on medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the thinly sliced garlic cloves. Toss continuously until the garlic begins to brown lightly, 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pine nuts and keep stirring. The residual heat should help the pine nuts toast and brown. Pour the hot oil, garlic and pine nut mixture over the stewed tomatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with pita.
How to Serve and Fun Variations
Traditionally, this dish is served for breakfast or as part of a meze plate alongside other classics like hummus, Mutabal, and labneh. You can enjoy it as a dip with pita, flatbread or Jerusalem Bagels. Though not traditional, you can get creative and sprinkle some za’atar on top if you wish.
Some recipes also include diced onions. You can certainly add onions to this recipe, but personally, I would leave it out. You can also squeeze some lemon juice on top, but that’s a personal choice.
I also like to use this as a base for an impromptu shakshuka (eggs cooked in tomatoes with roasted red pepper). When the tomatoes are almost done stewing, I will crack one or who eggs and allow them to cook until just set. Enjoy with pita bread or crusty bread.
The finished dip is technically a seasoned tomato sauce and can be used on pasta, as a pizza base or even as a side to proteins like beef and fish.
Make ahead and Storage
What’s great about this recipe is that it can be made ahead. Feel free to make the tomato base 2-3 days ahead. You can garnish with pine nuts and parsley before serving. Any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store in a glass container and avoid using any metal containers that can react with the acid in the dip. Avoid using plastic containers as those can get stained.
It is possible to freeze the dip, but I personally wouldn’t recommend that.
- Seasonality. Make this recipe during the summer months when tomatoes are in season. Support your local farmers or grow your own!
- Skip the blanching step (optional). If you’re feeling a little lazy, you can certainly skip the blanching step. The finished fried tomato dip will not be as smooth, but it will still be delicious.
- Canned tomatoes will work too. If using canned tomatoes, select high-quality canned whole tomatoes. They are already peeled for you.
A popular Levantine meze or breakfast sauteed tomatoes dish that is enjoyed with pita bread. Its main ingredients are fresh tomatoes, garlic, chili peppers and extra virgin olive oil.
Other Levantine Recipes to Try
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Levantine Fried Tomatoes (Galayet Bandora Recipe)
- 2 lbs Roma tomatoes
- 3 tablespoon Olive oil - Divided
- 1-2 Jalapeno peppers - You can also use Serrano peppers - see note
- 4 Garlic cloves - 2 cloves finely minced, 2 cloves thinly sliced - divided
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoon Pine nuts
- Parsley for garnish
- Blanch Tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make a small X-shaped cut on the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife. Drop the tomatoes into the hot water carefully. Wait 30-60 seconds and carefully remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.
- Prepare Tomatoes: Let the tomatoes cool slightly and then carefully peel the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes into large chunks and set aside.
- Fry Tomatoes. To a medium sized frying pan set on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the chopped hot peppers and minced garlic. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and black pepper. At this point, you can add optional whole or sliced jalapenos for more heat. Continue to cook on medium-low heat, stirring once in a while, until the sauce thickens. This can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.
- Fry Garnish. In a small frying pan set on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the thinly sliced garlic cloves. Toss continuously until the garlic begins to brown lightly, 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pine nuts and keep stirring. The residual heat should help the pine nuts toast and brown. Before the garlic and pine nuts get too brown and burn, spoon or pour the hot oil, garlic and pine nut mixture over the stewed tomatoes. There might be some splatter. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with pita.