Einav Sharon has been making a version of filfel chuma, a garlic-based North African sauce, for more than twenty years now. Until recently, only friends and family had tasted it. Then she met Jeff Silva. Or, rather, their cats introduced them at a kitty pancake party (“We brought our cats to a friend’s house, and made pancakes”). It was there that Jeff tried Einav’s filfel chuma. “Two things came to mind,” he remembers. “One: this is fucking amazing. And two: the world needs it.” Jeff and Einav realized their skillsets and personalities were complementary, and decided to partner up, and launch Filfil Foods.
Traditional filfel chuma is a thick, dry paste, with a hefty garlic bite and a caraway-flavored pungency. Einav wanted to capture that taste “without making it too specific to the North African palate. We didn’t want to kill people with garlic breath or make it too bitter.”
The company debuted in 2013 with Filfil No. 6, a marinade that’s terrific on meat and fish, and Filfil No. 7, a garlic hot sauce, emphasis on the garlic–there are 20 cloves in each 8.5-oz bottle. So far, only No. 7 is available for retail–it’s at Foragers and Dépanneur, among other places–but after a recent successful Kickstarter, bottles of No. 6 are on the way, too.
Besides the taste–a desirable balance of smoky, spicy, and garlicky–the most notable thing about Filfil is how versatile it is. Mix it with honey or tamari for a mouthwatering marinade, with yogurt for a crudite dip, or with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a vinaigrette. Cook with it in the pan, or dump it straight onto eggs or sandwiches or pizza. The possibilities, as they say, are endless.