Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip (Ha Sikil Pak)

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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1 cup unhulled raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
3 to 6 tomatoes, about 3/4 lb
1 habanero pepper, or any fresh green chile such as jalapeno or serrano
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/3 to 2/3 cups water
2 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp 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.

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.

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.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.