Beans in Italy
Here Come the Flowers!

Sikil p'ak or Pumpkin Seed Dip

Some online friends and I are doing a group project of cooking all the recipes from Diana Kennedy's seminal The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Our goal is to make every single thing in the book. It sounds crazy and maybe it is but I love this kind of odd thing. I remember trying something similar with my old Marcella Hazan books on Italian cooking. I didn't get far but I remember being surprised a number of times by food that didn't seem so interesting on paper that just popped when I made it.

We're starting, very slowly, with the first recipe in the book. Two of us have made it and the rest are trying, but it might be easier to herd kitties than organize a group like this.

Sikil p'ak is good and weird and here is a summation of Kennedy's recipe:

1 cup raw unhulled pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1 habanero or any fresh green chile wiped clean
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
12 oz tomatoes, broiled (see page 490, ugh)
2/3 cup water, approximately
2 heaped tbs chopped cilantro
2 heaped tbs chopped chives

Toast the unhulled seeds first until well browned and crisp, then add the hulled ones and toast for about a minute more.
Toast the chile until blistered and black-brown in spots.
Using an electric coffee grinder, grind the toasted seeds with the salt to a fine powder.
Blend the unskinned tomatoes with 1/3 cup water.
Stir this into the seed powder in a bowl along with the cilantro, chives and whole chile. If you want it spicier, blend a small piece of the chile in with the tomatoes.
This should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is too thick, add a little more water.


I cheated. I used all hulled pepitas from Trader Joe's and canned, roasted tomatoes in chunks. I put the whole mess in the blender and went to town. The results were good but I'm sure Kennedy's instructions are better. I used it for a dip and then the next morning I warmed up the sauce and had it over fried eggs.


Finally, the last of the sauce was warmed up with some poached chicken. Ugly but delicious!



What a cool project.
I have another Diana Kennedy book, with a recipe for Homemade Banana Vinegar.
I have so-o-o got to try that.

Steven Sando

Did you see my pineaple vinegar thread? It's around here somewhere.

Ruth Alegria

Well not to give my age away but I first made this sauce after my first class with D.K back in 1973. It was wonderful!
Some tips: the place for 'fresh' pumpkin seeds ( they do go rancid because of their oil content ) is usually a health food store.
I use just the cilantro not the chives, broil the tomato and the serrano till charred and grind with a little water, adding until I reach a thick consistency.
I like my Sikil P'ak thick enough to scoop up with a warm tortilla.
Buen provecho!

Ruth Alegria

Ooops, this recipe nudged my flavor memories. Have you tried Papadzules?
Try squeezing the oil from the toasted pumpkin seeds for this "Food of the Lords" mayan dish!

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