Pumpkin Seed Salsa (sikil p'aak)

Pumpkin Seed Salsa (sikil p'aak)

This unusual, delicious spread has its roots in the ancient Maya kitchen. The name, sikil p’aak (pronounced “sickle pack”) is Mayan, not Spanish. If you’re accustomed to serving guacamole every time you open a bag of chips, try this blend of pumpkin seeds and tomatoes instead. Tahini isn’t a traditional ingredient, but we like the flavor and creamy texture it adds. Let the salsa sit at least 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors mellow and blend. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but it’s best enjoyed the day it’s made.

Makes about 3 cups


1 white onion
Small bunch fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1¾ cups roasted pumpkin seeds
5 ounces diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, canned)
3 tablespoons tahini
3 teaspoons habanero pepper hot sauce (or 1 fresh habanero chile, chopped)
1½ teaspoon salt


Heat the oven to 450ºF.

  • Peel the onion and cut in half.

  • Rinse and dry the cilantro.

Put the onion halves on a sheet pan, drizzle them with oil and roast until slightly blackened and softened, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Let cool and roughly chop. 

In a blender or food processor, combine the onion with the remaining ingredients and blend or pulse to a slightly chunky puree.

Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl. Season to taste with more salt, if needed. Serve with fresh tortilla chips or raw vegetables, such as jicama or cucumbers. 

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