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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Mayan style toasted pumpkin seed dip

Hello you lovely people! I hope you that you had a wonderful break, however you choose to mark the season (if at all). I marked it by getting a year older, eating a delicious salt-caramel chocolate torte from Babkalicious and attending Limmud conference and learning a lot of new things.

I am one of those weird people who gets oddly excited about kitchen utensils, the bigger the better. My favourite Selfridges window is the one with the display of giant saucepans, and I have confused many people by stopping in my tracks to gaze longingly at it. The flat I am currently living in contains one of the largest frying pans I have ever had the privilege to be able to use, and as soon as I saw it my mind just started fizzing with new recipes to try. It is the perfect size and shape to toast a ton of pumpkin seeds, and so this recipe just had to be made (I get inspired by normal things too, like sunsets and art, I’m not a complete lunatic).

This dip is absolutely delicious, it is simple and just works in that way that ancient and authentic recipes do: toasty, wholesome, citrus-fresh and ever-so-slightly bitter. Toasting pumpkin seeds transforms them in the most wonderful way. They become crunchy and fragrant, with a complex roasted nutty flavour.

The quantities given here make enough for a smallish bowlful, or rather, enough as part of a Mexican/South American mezze-style dip selection for about 6 people. The original recipe uses a food processor, but I decided to use my mortar and pestle, and then an immersion blender. This probably kept the texture a bit rougher, which I liked, and was less complicated for washing-up purposes. But really, I just love using my mortar and pestle – it is rough stone and heavy, and makes me feel a bit more authentic.


1 cup plus 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely diced (or use a whole one if it is small)
1 jalapeño, seeds and white pith removed, and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Small handful fresh parsley (equivalent to about 1/3 cup)
Small handful fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
zest of half an orange

Serve: with tortilla chips, crudités, warmed soft tortillas and other South American delicious dippy things like salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.


Heat a large frying pan and toast the pumpkin seeds in a single layer (no oil), tossing occasionally, until they crackle and pop. Some will jump out of the pan in an over-excited kind of way. You may need to do this in stages if your pan isn’t big enough.  

Saving a few of the seeds for garnish, grind the rest to powder in a pestle and mortar and add to a large bowl. You will definitely need to grind them in stages.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in the frying pan, add the diced onion and jalapeño, and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it starts getting a little softened and translucent, add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more, and then add to the bowl with the pumpkin seed powder.

Add the parsley, coriander, lime juice, orange zest, 1 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup of water to the bowl with the ground pumpkin seeds and fried things, and use an immersion blender to puree everything together to a rough, humous-like texture. Taste and add a little more salt if needed.

Serve at room temperature, scattered with the reserved toasted pumpkin seeds and a little drizzle of olive oil.

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