In Spanish, appetizers or snacks, especially bar snacks, are called botanas. A very typical dip to have on the table in Yucatán alongside tortilla chips and salsas, is a wonderful toasted pumpkin seed dip. It usually has the consistency of a coarser hummus or baba ganoush, and it’s called Sikil Pak in Maya.
Sikil is Mayan for tomato; pak means pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas in Spanish.
approximately 1 cup unhulled raw pumpkin seeds
approximately 1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
3 to 6 tomatoes, or about 3/4 pound. Green Tomatillos can be used instead if you prefer.
1 Habañero chile, or any fresh green chile like Jalapeño or Serrano
a clove of unpeeled garlic can be added if it’s to your taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt, or to taste
1/3 to 2/3 cups water
roughly chopped cilantro (approximately 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced chives
You really can use any ratio you like of unhulled to hulled seeds, but the amounts listed above work.
Heat a large wide pan over medium heat. While stirring often, toast the unhulled pumpkin seeds in the pan until browned. The amount of time it takes will depend on the freshness of the seeds and may take 15 to 30 minutes. Some pumpkin seeds will pop while toasting.
Once they are browned, add the hulled seeds and toast for another minute. Set the toasted pumpkin seeds aside off heat to cool.
In the same pan, char chiles and tomatoes or tomatillos. If using garlic, add the unpeeled clove to the pan as well. Turn the vegetables often and let them darken and blister in spots.
Traditionally you’d use a molcajete or mortar and pestle to grind the seeds, but you can use a food processor or coffee / spice grinder of course.
If you used a garlic clove, peel it before adding it to the grinder.
Grind pumpkin seeds with salt (and garlic if you used it) into a coarse meal 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 meal and add chives and cilantro. It will be fairly smooth, resembling coarser hummus or baba ghanoush.
Top with minced chile. Taste and adjust with kosher/sea salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips. Ha sikil pak can be made ahead and will keep for a couple days in the refrigerator.