Citizens, we start off the week of garlic with Filfel Chuma, (Hebrew: פלפלצ’ומה), also spelled pilpelshuma (lit: “pepper garlic” in Yiddish) which is the typical hot condiment of Libyan Jewish cuisine.
It is made from powdered sweet and hot peppers and a SERIOUS amount of crushed garlic. Other ingredients, such as ground caraway seeds, cumin, lemon juice and salt are sometimes added as well.
It serves as a condiment and as an ingredient in dishes such as salads, meat, fish, legumes and rice, and egg dishes such as Shakshouka.
It is very similar to Tunisian Harissa, and is one of the few legacy recipes still in regular use from the now-vanished (in Libya) Jews of the region. Thankfully, several thousand Libyan Jews remain and thrive in Italy, Israel and the United States.
I believe you will find many uses for this uniquely garlic-laden treat, Citizens! 🙂 My twist is to add a touch of smoky heat from Chipotle powder or just smoke from smoked paprika – use only one of these!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
14 (yes – 14!) cloves garlic
1 dried Ancho pepper, destemmed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon Chipotle powder (optional, TFD modification)
3 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika
½ tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (TFD modification: use only if you don’t use Chipotle powder – substitute sweet paprika if you used Chipotle – original recipe uses sweet paprika)
1 tablespoon ground Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
½ cup olive oil, plus more to cover
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the ancho chile in a small bowl and cover with hot water; set aside to rehydrate, at least 30 minutes. Drain and slice in half to remove seeds from chile. Set aside.
Add cumin and caraway seeds to a medium-sized stainless steel skillet. Turn heat to medium and toast seeds, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Grind using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until powdery.
In a blender or food processor, process all the ingredients into a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Transfer to a sterilized jar, cover with 2 tablespoons of oil to prevent spoilage, and store in the refrigerator.
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