Pumpkin Seed Dip of the Mayans – Ha Sikil Pak

Sikil Pak - Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip with Habanero Chile

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.

recipe adapted from Diana Kennedy’s Essential Cuisines of Mexico
Waiter There’s Something in my… Gourd hosted by Cook Sister!

Ha Sikil Pak
Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip

makes about 1 1/2 cups, about 6 servings

Sikil Pak - Unhulled and Hulled Pumpkin Seeds
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

Notes:

  • 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.

Instructions:

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.

Sikil Pak - Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Charred Habanero
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.

Sikil Pak - Ground Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
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.

To Serve:

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.

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35 Responses to “Pumpkin Seed Dip of the Mayans – Ha Sikil Pak”

  1. Rosa says:

    Very interesting and healthy… I bet this dip tastes awesome! Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    This looks so wonderful! I’ve seen this book around for years. This is the first recipe I’ve seen and now I would love to have the book.

  3. maryann says:

    I like the idea of this. Very seasonal :)

  4. snookydoodle says:

    what a nice dip. And healthy too :)

  5. Fearless Kitchen says:

    This looks delicious, and so unique! How would one hull pumpkin seeds?

  6. Squawkfox says:

    Stunning. Which do you enjoy more: the cooking or the photography? When I cook I love the outcome, but I can’t wait to capture what I see in a photo. :)

  7. Natashya says:

    Looks wonderful! I love roasted pumpkin seeds – I imagine I would love this dip/sread. I will have to check out this book too.

  8. Lori Lynn says:

    Hi! I just saw your dip on Recipe Muncher and had to come over as I just posted a dish with ground pumpkin seeds too!

    This looks fabulous!

  9. Bellini Valli says:

    This is an amazing way to use the seeds. We just did the simple thing and roasted them with spices. By the way you were not really late for the World Food Day event…I just post really early in the morning. We really appreciated your contribution!!!!

  10. sweetbird says:

    So, how in the heck do you hull all those pumpkin seeds? I break them all the time. Plus, by about the 20th seed I’m about ready to give up. What’s your secret?

  11. andy abraham says:

    Great recipe idea for this time of year… It is a very clever recipe … I can not wait to try your pumpkin seed dip recipe…thanks

    All the best

    Andy

    http://www.recipebuddys.com

  12. cheryl says:

    this totally rocks! I’m having a party this weekend and wanted something featuring pumpkin. how perfect!

  13. Susan says:

    Charred and toasted makes a huge difference. This is fantastic.

  14. paoix says:

    This looks great! How does it taste? i might just have to find out for myself by making it

  15. grace says:

    this is a tremendous idea! it looks so smooth and creamy and i have no doubt that it’s delicious. thank goodness for pumpkins–they offer so many possibilities!

  16. lisaiscooking says:

    This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to try it.

  17. PG says:

    fantastic! A very delicious recipe.

  18. Amber says:

    I love pumkin seeds, especially on salads. But oooh this sounds good. I am glad you gave options for the habenero, they are just a lot too hot for me. Yes I meant to say it that way. I think this is the first Mayan recipe I have ever seen. Thanks

  19. Tanna, Natashya – It’s an excellent book. Being from Chicago, I should have a few Rick Bayless books but it seems to be the only Mexican cookbook I need for now. So extensive.

    Jessica, Sweetbird – I actually bought the hulled pumpkin seeds in this recipe, but fresh pumpkin seeds should be toasted in the oven until crispy to make hulling easier.

    Squawkfox – Cooking came first, and I can’t eat photos, so yeah.

    Bellini – Thanks for the great event!

    Amber – I like the habanero for its unique flavor, but it is a bit much for some. Seeded jalapenos should bring the heat down a few notches.

  20. Soma says:

    Hi Jude

    Thanx for visiting me.

    This looks sso awesome. I am for sure going to try this sometime soon. probably after i make a jack o lantern.
    I love different kinds of dips & spreads. This is lovely and so healthy too.

    Thanx for sharing this.

  21. noobcook says:

    shame on me, for I threw away the pumpkin seeds… what a waste especially seeing that they can be transformed to such a wonderful looking dip ^_^

  22. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    I can just imagine how mindblowingly delicious this dip is. Wow, I do admire your determination going through all those pumpkins! ;)

  23. Gluten Free Goodness » Blog Archive » Pumpkin Carving Party says:

    [...] Pumpkin seed pave: I’ve been meaning to try a recipe from Apple Pie, Patis, Pâté for a while, and I’m glad I did! Somehow with all of the food, it flew under the radar. On the other hand, that meant MORE FOR ME! I thought it was absolutely awesome. I added some cocoa powder on the top, but aside from that I followed the recipe. [...]

  24. Willa Burns says:

    When I was in Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan state of Mexico last February I had lunch in my favorite Mayan restaurant there called Yaxche (meaning tree of life.) I have been thinking constantly about the absolutely delicious pumpkin seed dip they served with tortilla chips. I am delighted to find the recipe here, and can’t wait to get my hands on some pumpkin seeds so I can try this recipe!
    Thank you!

  25. I hope this recipe comes close to the pumpkin seed dip you had in the Yucatan.

  26. burak says:

    amq kodugum gavurları ne diyonuz sızın sulanınızı sikim amq koduk larım bacınnı sıkım:)

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  29. Rene'e says:

    I just returned from covering the Yucatan Peninsula , all three coasts, driving and we had this in a few places , each was a little different. One morning they had it sprinkled dry over the egg dish we had for breakfast. In the Yucatan you can buythe toasted seeds in different sie bags in the market. We purchased ours in Progresso, Yucatan.

  30. motorcylist says:

    You should try roasting pumpkin seeds with celtic sea salt shaken on after….it’s entirely different tasting and the salt, although somewhat expensive, goes a long long way.

  31. myairmattress.com says:

    I have been reading further into this issue and appreciate your well written post on this matter. I have bookmarked Pumpkin Seed Dip РMayan Recipe for Ha Sikil Pak | Apple Pie, Patis, and P̢t̩ Recipes so that I can credit back to it and once again, thanks so much for the energy spent creating this post.

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  33. cheryl says:

    Does it say anywhere in the recipe that the unhulled seeds need to be hulled before processing? I read it to mean that shells and all go into the grinder. Right?

  34. gayle says:

    We just got back from Akumal Mexico. While there we went to Vauadolid Yucatan. At a restaurant we had this dip. It was wonderful! Had it not been for our Mayan guide, I would not have known what I was eating. He explained what it was and how it was made. Today I was searching online for Mayan recipes and found this. Thank you! Now I can make my own!

  35. Craig Mires says:

    While visiting Merida, Mexico – we had this several times. It is by far more tasteful , and flavorful than guacamole. Awesome.

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