Flefle means chili in Syria and deps is a dip; combine the two and what we have is Depsflefle – the Syrian Chili Paste.
When Living Foodz caught up with Syrian Chef Mohannad Alshamali at the recently concluded Arabic Food Festival at the JW Marriott Juhu in Mumbai and urged him to share a simple recipe from his homeland, he yielded “a mother sauce”.
The chef refers to Depsflefle as ‘mother’ because it is the main sauce in several traditional Syrian dishes. It is used to marinate meats, flavour salads, mixed with pomegranate molasses for shawarmas and can be enjoyed on its own as a spread or dip.
There is no secret to this chef’s sauce and the recipe is so unpretentious that all you will need is some time and patience. Without talking about quantities, the chef dived right into the preparation method –
“We take a bunch of red chilies and dry them in the sun for almost a month. Then we grind them and mix with lots of olive oil. Season this with fresh coriander, coriander seeds, cumin and salt to taste. Now, store this concoction in a jar till all the ingredients blend beautifully.”
When we tasted Depsflefle which had been flown in all the way from the chef's home, it tasted nothing like chili, infact it had a tinge of sweetness that was enhanced by olive oil. “It’s not really spicy and the taste is neat. The sweetness comes from the land of Syria,” Alshamali explained.
The best way to enjoy Depsflefle is to share it with friends and family. With a hint of nostalgia, the chef talked about his mother and grand-mother packing off jars and jars of this chili sauce for loved ones. The sauce must be allowed to sit undisturbed on kitchen shelves so that all the flavours emerge with time. “They say in Syria – More old is more gold,” concludes the chef who belongs to one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Conceptualised by: Vartika Pahuja