- Chershi (sometimes spelled chirshi or tershi) is the main reason why all gardens should plant pumpkins.
First of all, what’s chershi? If you’ve been lucky enough to sit down at a meal from Libyan cuisine, you’ll find that among the usual mezze – small plates of humus, vegetables cooked in olive oil, potato salad, tabbuleh – there will be an orange-colored dip with intriguing spicy, garlicky flavors. It’s chershi kara’a, a creamy pumpkin spread that takes the sweet vegetable to a whole different level. Sometimes called tershi, it’s a specialty of Tripoli Jews. And especially nice, it’s also a vegan dish.
Many insist that the spread be based on pumpkin, and pumpkin only, but others, not so purist, use butternut squash, sometimes combined with carrots, to delicious effect. So how do you eat chershi? Tear a corner off a fresh pita and dip it into the chershi – as you do with humus. Garnish couscous with chershi. Spoon some on to your plate and top it with a little yogurt and finely-sliced scallions, replenishing as your appetite dictates. Or spread it between slices of bread to enrich any sandwich.
Note: The traditional recipe calls for powdered caraway seed, but if you don’t have it, you can leave it out. But if you have a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder, you can easily crush a couple of tablespoons of caraway seeds and store the excess in a small glass jar or small bag with a zipper top. It’ll last longer in a glass jar.
Here’s the traditional recipe.