WE are sometimes guilty of typecasting pumpkin as sweet and forget
that it has a savoury side, too.
Happily, Sephardic cuisine abounds with savoury pumpkin dishes to
remind us of this autumn vegetableís versatility.
My favourite of these is chershi karaa, a tangy, spicy pumpkin
spread created by Libyan Jews and now a favourite among Israelis.
Chershi (sometimes spelled chirshi or tershi) are spicy, highly
flavoured condiments or dips that are typically served as part of
I first learned about pumpkin chershi at the Israeli Consulate
in Chicago, which featured Gil Hovav making some traditional Sephardic
dishes from his childhood.
As is often the case in Jewish cuisine, there are many ways to
make pumpkin chershi.
In his dish, for example, Hovav mixes pumpkin with carrot and
potato. Others use only pumpkin. But everyone seems to agree that
chershi karaa should be spicy and tangy, with lots of garlic and
One of the best things about pumpkin chershi is how easy it is
to make. Using canned pumpkin puree, this recipe comes together
in a few minutes.
My goal with this pumpkin chershi recipe was to create a nice
balance of sweetness, heat and acid. I guarantee that it will change
how you think about pumpkin.
Chershi makes a fantastic dip alongside some warm pita with a
dollop of cool yoghurt on top.
But donít stop there. Chershi also works as a sandwich spread,
and it has traditionally been eaten as a garnish for couscous.
* Emily Paster writes the blog West of the Loop
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add
the garlic, cumin, paprika and red pepper flakes. Season with salt
and stir to combine. Cook just until garlic begins to turn golden.
Add pumpkin, harissa and honey; stir to combine. Cook gently,
just until pumpkin is warmed through.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Dip should be tangy and spicy. Serve with Greek yogurt and warmed
pita, or as a garnish for couscous. Serves six to eight. It will
keep in the fridge for a week.
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