Food Culture, Recipes

Making Mexico Mole and Talking Chiles

Many cultures concoct dense and warming chile sauces whether it be curry in East Asia, mole in Mexico or the famous ají sauces of Peru and throughout South America.

The word aji has its origins rooted in the Caribbean while the word chile comes from Nahuatl. Just as they have different words, each region in the Americas has its own recipe based on local agriculture.

In Cuzco, you’ll often find ají, a bright orange hot pepper used in sauces, served as a side to dip into your potatoes called papas a la huancaina or as a creamy sauce for the typical dish aji de gallina.

When first introduced to this chile in Peru it triggered my memories for the spice and texture of Mexican mole. While there are certainly distinct national flavors, the two dishes have a similar warmth and serve as a foundation for traditional cuisines.

In Mexico, cacao is often added to a blend of chilies to render a spicy yet sweet-earthy taste. Just back from Perú I was blessed in Peruvian cacao. My Central Mexican friend and I decided to make mole “from touch” as they say. It’s a pinch of this and handful of that type of cooking that is handed down. So, we used my Peruvian cacao. Yum.

Delicious Mole (Natalie Bankhead)
Delicious Mole (Natalie Bankhead)

As with any mole recipe these are rough calculations. You can add other types of chiles, but these are what are available at American-Mexican markets.

Mole Recipe

1) Chiles

(Create desired heat by adding more chile seeds if desired.)

Deseed chilies with gloves

4 chile cascabel
2 chile chipotle
1 chile habanero
1 bag chile morita
2 bags pasilla-ancho
1 bag ciruelas pasas or prunes

Heat chiles in oil until soft

2) Roast

2 cups salted peanuts
1 small bag of pumpkin seeds
3 slices of wheat bread

Roast in separate pan 5 large tomatoes

3) Blend chiles, tomatoes, nuts, and bread with 4 cloves of garlic, 1 yellow onion, and  2 cups of chicken broth.

4) Cacao
In a heated sauce pan add  pure cacao and salt to taste.

Enjoy!

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