Sikil P’ak

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Mayan Roasted Tomato & Pumpkin Dip

Before us Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and even Northern Europe inhabitants claimed the tomato as one of the fruits defining our food cultures, this divine berry was a staple of the Mayan diet. Its ancient Mayan name is P’ak. In Nahuatl cultures ingesting the seeds of the tomato berry was considered a divine blessing – its name closer to its worldwide term nowadays is ‘tomatl’. This dip or as some of guests called it ‘tomato and nut butter’ hails from the olden times of South American food heritage. My recipe was inspired by the infamous Diane Kennedy, whose books on Mexican cuisine are a precious ethnography of the land’s food culture. You can use raw, un-peeled pumpkin seeds for one third of the quantity of pumpkin seeds used here. If you do be careful to NOT use salted ones and you might need to increase the water quantity used. I prefer to play safe and to use organic peeled and home roasted seeds.

What

(yields approx. 500g dip)

  • 350g ripe tomatoes
  • 160g pumpkin seeds
  • Half a habanero or Hungarian hotwax or jalapeño chilli pepper (optional)
  • 65-85ml water
  • 15g fresh coriander leaves finely chopped 
  • ½- 1tsp salt
  • 2 pinches of smoked or plain salt
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Handful of chives, roughly chopped or some parsley

How

  1. Place the washed & dried tomatoes a non-stick pan with a couple of pinches of salt. Preferably use ripe cherry or small plum tomatoes whole. Other tomatoes should be sliced in half.
  2. Roast the tomatoes on high heat for the first five minutes and then lower to medium heat to cook until soft in the middle, usually for another five minutes.  
  3. Whilst the tomatoes roast, place the pumpkin seeds in another non-stick pan and toast for a few minutes until they start popping. Make sure you regularly shake the pan to avoid burn.
  4. Set aside the pumpkin seeds to cool down  (5 minutes).
  5. Whilst the pumpkins are cooling down dry toast the chilli pepper until it browns in spots and softens.
  6. Using a coffee or spice grinder blend the toasted pumpkins to a fine meal.
  7. In a food processor place the tomatoes, chilli (if using), the ½ tsp of salt, the coriander and some water. Blend until well mixed.
  8. Transfer the pumpkin meal and tomato mix into a bowl, add the lime and mix well. You can also mix in the food processor if big enough.
  9. The mixture should resemble a mayonnaise dip in consistency or a thin hummus.
  10. If you don’t mind a chunkier dip, you can make the dip in a large stone pestle and mortar. Starting with the grinding of the seeds, then the tomato and pepper and then the other ingredients.
  11. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  12. Mix in the lime juice and garnish with the chives.
  13. Serve with nachos as a starter or beer snack.

One thought on “Sikil P’ak

    Lia Moutselou responded:
    June 19, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    For Charlie who was such an amazing guest at my recent demo ! This dip originally hails from the Yucatán region. Sikil means pumpkin seeds and Pak tomato in Mayan dialect

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