There is something beyond the deliciously smooth and satisfying hummus, smoky moutabel (burnt aubergine dip) and silky labneh (strained yoghurt) – Acuka. Also known as Muhammara and originally from Syria, this red pepper and walnut dip is widespread in Turkey and the Levant. It is sweetened with pomegranate molasses and flavoured with spices. It can be served hot or cold with pita, bread or vegetable crudites, and is also great as a condiment to grill meat dishes!

So, here we present to you our twist on Acuka – using butternut squash (you can also use other squashes or pumpkin, sweet potatoes etc) as the base and a few alternative ingredients!

This recipe is ideal for winter months when people wish to make something original with squash or when peppers are not yet in season.

Acuka ingredients

550g butternut squash flesh (skin on), cut into chunks
1 clove of garlic, skin removed and lightly crushed
1 slice (about 25 – 30g) of bread, toasted and torn into pieces
55g walnuts, toasted
1 lime, juice only
1 tbsp agave syrup (for vegan version) or honey or other sweeteners
1 tsp smoked paprika
a small pinch of chili flakes, to taste
a pinch of cumin, to taste
A pinch of salt, to taste
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil


1. Steam butternut squash along with garlic clove for 20 – 25 minutes or brush butternut squash and garlic with oil and roast in oven at 180C for 45 minutes until tender. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh from the skin and transfer flesh and garlic to blender.

2. Add toast, walnuts, lime juice, agave syrup, smoked paprika, chili flakes, cumin, salt, and 1 tbsp olive oil to the blender. Blitz until smooth. Add more olive oil as desire.

3. Serve with pita or crudites, or as a canape – spread the dip on blinis or crispbread then topped with tomato slices and fresh herbs (such as basil or mint)!



This recipe was kindly brought to you by TwinnyDip! The Guardian’s readers’ recipe swap home cooks of the year. For more recipes, inspiration and ideas, go to the TwinnyDip website or follow Natalie and Valerie on their twitter accounts.

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