Sikil Pak is a simple but delicious pumpkin seed salsa that comes from the Mayans of the Yucatán peninsula. It makes an incredibly addictive gluten-free appetizer or condiment.
The intriguing name of this delightful dip is from the Mayan ha‘-sikil-p’aak, which literally translates into water (ha) — pumpkin seed (sikil) — tomato (p’aak).
While that’s essentially all one really needs to make this tasty spread, I also like to throw in a few more simple ingredients for maximum tastiness.
For this recipe you’ll need:
- pepitas aka shelled pumpkin seeds
- habanero pepper
- cumin seed (optional)
- sea salt
Cumin seed is not traditionally found in sikil pak, but I love how it complements the earthy flavor of the pepitas.
Feel free to substitute with ground cumin or omit it completely.
How to Make Sikil Pak
Start by heating a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add the pepitas and cumin seeds and toast, stirring often, until the seeds begin turning golden brown.
As the seeds toast, you’ll start hearing a wonderful popping sound. Carefully watch them so they do not burn.
Once toasted, transfer the seeds to a food processor or blender. Pulse until they are ground into a coarse flour-like mixture.
Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean and return it to medium-high heat.
Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with some cooking oil or spray, then add the tomatoes, sliced onion, garlic, and habanero.
Cook the vegetables, turning them every few minutes, until they are softened and slightly charred, then transfer them to a cutting board to cool slightly.
This should take only a few minutes for the garlic and pepper, and about 6-7 minutes for the tomatoes and onion.
Once cool, give the tomato and onion a rough chop and add them to the food processor.
Also throw in the charred garlic and habanero along with some cilantro, lime juice, and sea salt.
Puree everything for a minute or two until a smooth paste is formed.
If the mixture is a little too thick, thin it out by blending in a few tablespoons of water, a little at a time.
Season with more sea salt to taste, then transfer the sikil pak to a bowl and serve.
What to Serve with Pepita Dip
Sikil pak makes a great alternative to guacamole, humus, or salsa, so anything you normally serve along side works great with this dip too.
A few serving accompianments are:
- toasted cassava flour tortillas
- sliced vegetables (cucumbers and carrots pair particularly well)
- spread it on grilled chicken or fish
- plantain, sweet potato, or tortilla chips
You can also be like me and just eat it by the spoonful. Enjoy!
Sikil Pak: Mayan-inspired Pepita Dip
- 1 cup raw pepitas aka hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds optional
- 1 teaspoon high heat cooking oil or cooking spray
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 habanero pepper stemmed and seeded
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Bring a large, heavy skillet to medium heat. Add the pepitas and cumin seed and toast, stirring often, until fragrant and golden brown. Transfer the seeds to a food processor or blender and pulse until well ground.
- Wipe the skillet clean and return it to medium-high heat. Lightly brush the pan with cooking oil or spray, then add the tomatoes, onion, pepper, and garlic cloves. Cook, turning every few minutes, until the vegetables have softened and slightly charred. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board as they are done to cool.
- Roughly chop the tomato and onion and add it to the food processor along with the garlic, pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and sea salt. Puree for about a minute until a smooth paste is formed, gradually adding a few tablespoons of water if desired for a thinner consistency.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 3 days.
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