Libyan Spicy Pumpkin Dip


Serve this zesty Sephardic appetizer with chunks of bread or raw vegetables, such as cucumber slices. My daughter and I first tasted it in a Libyan-Jewish restaurant in Jaffa, Israel, where waiters brought this and other spicy dips to the table as we browsed through the menu. If you have any left after the feast, cover, and store in the refrigerator. It will keep at least a week.


Libyan Spicy Pumpkin Dip


Yields: Serves 4 to 6



  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 to 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut, pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry spice mixture
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (if using fresh, you might need a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to oomph up the flavor)
  • 1/2 red jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro



Lightly saute the onion and half of the garlic in the olive oil until the onion is softened. Add the squash, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the squash is about half tender.

Sprinkle in the cumin, paprika, ginger, and curry, stir, then cook until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chili, salt, and sugar; cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has evaporated and the squash is very, very tender, 20 minutes or so.

Add a few tablespoons water if you need it, so the mixture doesn’t dry out and burn.

When the squash starts to get very tender, mash it into a coarse puree using a potato masher. You want a thick, pastelike consistency.

Add the reserved garlic and taste for seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice.

Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with cilantro


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