The recent slew of pumpkin and squash posts is not some sort of misguided attempt to turn my year-round tan into a peculiar shade of orange. It’s all about collecting the slippery seeds within for making the pumpkin seed dip called ha-sikil-pak, which is Mayan for water-pumpkin seed-tomato.
I like guacamole as much as the next person but it lacks one thing that ha sikil pak has in spades — the complexity of several toasted and charred ingredients.
Raw pumpkin seeds are crisped and pulverized to serve as the pumpkin seed dip base. The chiles and tomatoes are then charred before mixing with a bit of water, herbs, and the fragrant pumpkin seed powder. Usually enjoyed with tortilla chips, ha sikil pak also serves well as a piquant condiment for grilled meat and seafood or as a substitute for fresh salsa.
Ha Sikil Pak
Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip
makes about 1 1/2 cups, about 6 servings
Unhulled and hulled raw pumpkin seeds.
1 cup unhulled raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
3 to 6 tomatoes, about 3/4 pound
1 habanero chile, or any fresh green chile such as jalapeño or serrano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1/3 to 2/3 cups water
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons minced chives
- Use any proportion of unhulled to hulled raw pumpkin seeds. In the original recipe, 1 cup of unhulled to 1/4 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds is suggested.
Heat a skillet or wide pan over medium heat. While mixing frequently, toast the unhulled pumpkin seeds until browned and crisp. The amount of time needed depends on the freshness of the pumpkin seeds and may take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Some of the pumpkin seeds will pop.
Once well-browned, add the hulled pumpkin seeds and toast for an additional minute. Set the toasted pumpkin seeds aside and let cool.
In the same skillet, char the chiles and tomatoes while turning frequently until blistered in spots.
Toasted pumpkin seeds and charred habanero chile. Mind your hands and orifices when handling hot chiles.
Using a food processor or coffee / spice grinder, grind the toasted pumpkin seeds with the salt into a coarse powder and transfer to a serving bowl. Mince the charred chile and set aside.
Ground toasted pumpkin seeds.
Blend the charred tomatoes with about 1/3 cup of water. Stir into the pumpkin seed powder and add the cilantro and chives. The consistency should be smooth, resembling a coarser version of hummus or baba ghanoush
Top with the minced chile. Taste and adjust the seasoning with kosher salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips. Ha sikil pak can be made ahead and will keep for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.