Monday, October 18, 2010

Tershi, a Libyan pumpkin dip

Thanks to another food blog I enjoy reading, Jasmine and Manuel's Labna (they mainly write in Italian but some of their posts are in English too), I discovered a great new African recipe. Hop onto a time machine with me and let's travel to the Libya of many centuries ago to discover a delicious dip made by the Jewish community of Tripoli.
It is called tershi or cershi and it is perfect to make this time of year, its main ingredient being pumpkin.
It is sweet, sour, spicy and aromatic. It is not for vampires or first dates as you should not go lightly on the garlic. I made it as an appetizer to eat with thick, crusty pieces of bread but I am sure there are a million other ways to eat it (couscous, meat, cheese, soups are just some of the things I would like to try with this new found love).

Hurry up and try it, you may discover a great new dish to surprise and impress your guests with at Halloween and Thanksgiving! And last but not least, if you have an overload of pumpkin in the house these days, Jasmine informs us that you can preserve it for later use.

500gr pumpkin flesh
2 cloves garlic, pressed
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp caraway seed powder
1/2 tsp crushed chili pepper
4 tbsp olive oil

This recipe should be made with orange pumpkin but I couldn't find any at my farmer's market so I used another variety. Cut the skin off, deseed and cut into small chunks. To cook, place in a pan with a little olive oil, cover and let simmer, turning every once in a while. You can use canned pumpkin and skip this step of course, but here it can only be bought in a few specialty stores and it is extremely overpriced. Once the pumpkin has softened, mash it with a fork until it has a smooth texture. In another pan, sauté the pressed garlic and crushed chili pepper in a little olive oil and then mix into the pumpkin and keep simmering over low heat. In the meantime, crush the caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle. After about 10 minutes, add the vinegar and salt into the pan and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. Just before taking the pan off the heat, add in the caraway powder and mix well. The texture should be dense, soft and creamy, not liquid. Let cool and serve with crunchy bread.

With this recipe I am participating in Tobias' 16th Mediterranean Cooking Event. Be sure to check it out!

16th Mediterranean cooking event - Libya - tobias cooks! - 10.01.2011-10.02.2011


  1. Wow, I'm SO glad you tried the recipe (and liked it)!
    Sometimes I wonder weather my recipes are useful to someone out there in the real world or not, and I'm always really happy when someone is satisfied with my culinary advice! :)

  2. More than satisfied. My guests and the whole family loved it! Thanks

  3. What an interesting recipe! I love pumpkin and I think it is such a lovely vegetable, it should not be tampered with too much; this is perfect, as the spices are not too overpowering. I am so glad to learn about a cuisine I know so little about.

  4. I'm so glad Fall is finally here and all the pumpkin recipes are starting to appear. I love pumpkin in all its guises. This recipe looks really tasty. Thanks.

  5. ToB & Lynne - I am glad you enjoyed discovering this new recipe as much as I did. I agree, you can never have enough pumpkin!

  6. This is such an interesting recipe. It is definitely pumpkin season and this is a completely new way of preparing it. Thanks for introducing me to Labna too. I think I will practice my italian reading through the recipes :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I actually need a pumpkin dip so it's so serendipitous! :D

  8. That sounds so delicious! Really appropriate for the season too.

  9. So simple and it sounds delicious! I love the wonderful flavour of pumpkin, especially with lovely spices... yum!!!

  10. @expat kitchen - Labna always has nice vegetarian recipes. Didn't realize you speak Italian?
    @Lorraine - glad this might be useful!
    @Indie Tea - welcome! Yes, it is a different take on the usual pumpkin recipes. Looking forward to checking out your blog.
    @Trudy - check out Labna's English posts. I enjoy both your vegetarian recipes and you could definitely inspire each other!

  11. Hi there!

    I am doing a food blog event on Mediterranean food. This months topic is Libya. Maybe you want to participate!
    Her is the link to the event. Check it out!

  12. Hi there!
    Thanks for your interest in the event and the link and banner. I would love to have the recipe participate, but unfortunately the post has to be made in the period of the event. I see that this was posted in October. In order for you to participate you would have to post a new recipe.


  13. Just came across this Mum has made Tershi for eons...she's Italian but grew up in Libya from an early age. I was born in Tripoli....left when I was 7 when Gheddafi took over. Would love to go back and taste some of the authentic food again. We always had tershi with a lamb couscous or tajine. Also as a basic dip for fennel, celery and carrots. Luckily, my wife and I have learned to make many of the old North African and Italian dishes and the kids love them!!! Marco

  14. Apologies, completely forgot to add to previous post that we think the dish is even better when mashed chickpeas and crushed/roasted cumin seed and fresh coriander/ginger also added to it as an Indian/Asian variant (where we live and work now). thanks so much for the site

    1. Hi Marco, I am glad you are enjoying the blog and that this post brought back some nice memories. Thank you for the tip, it sounds like a delicious idea.


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