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Shifka Peppers and Tatbilah Sauce

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Looking at recipes for hummus I saw one with "tatbilah" sauce made using "hot and sour shifka peppers." I have made and eaten lots of hummus in my day but never have seen or heard of tatbilah sauce (though it sounded quite good). I am also not familiar with shifka peppers. I tried to google search both the peppers and the sauce and the results were paltry and uninformative. (The only mentions of tatbilah sauce were in the recipe I had originally seen and in a review for a hummus restaurant in Beijing.) I can only imagine that both the pepper and the sauce are also known by other names or spellings and was curious to learn more about them. Does anyone know what this refers to?

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I had a hunch as to what it is, and Googling mostly confirmed it. According to http://humus101.com/EN/category/anecdotes/:

In some places the hummus is served with Tatbila, a thin sauce from ground green peppers with lots of garlic and lemon.

Ahhhhh-ha! There are a couple Arabic restaurants around here that serve hummus with such a sauce. It's a delicious accompaniment, but I never knew the name of it until now and just used to call it "dressing." The sauce has the consistency of salad dressing and, as far as I can tell, it just contains green chiles and garlic, pureed in a base of lemon juice and olive oil. I don't know whether olive oil is supposed to be in the sauce, or the restaurants just mix the sauce and oil together for ease of service (or, dare I say, to get away with using cheap oil).

Now, the restaurant versions I've had definitely used fresh chiles, most likely jalapeños. However, shifka chiles are pickled. Specifically, according to this forum thread, they appear to be pickled hot Hungarian wax peppers.

The sauce is easy enough to make at home, and I often like to make a very basic hummus (only chickpeas, tahini, salt, and a little lemon juice) to be dressed with this sauce. Hummus without garlic sounds like blasphemy, but it's really good and everyone ought to try it. :)


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