Mole (Moh-lay / məʊleɪ)
Mole as a word comes from Nahuatl (mōlli) and it means sauce. Mole is by far, one of the most traditional and loved Mexican dishes. Complex, rich and subtle at the same time. Let us share a little bit about this beautiful sauce with you.
The origin of mole is surrounded by mysticism. The most common story about how mole sauce came to be is that upon the visit of the archbishop, nuns at the Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla gathered all the ingredients available at the moment in the kitchen: nuts, seeds, chilli peppers, spices, old bread and chocolate. They toasted and ground the ingredients and mixed them together. The result was a creamy sauce that was served with cooked turkey. Word is that the archbishop loved it! There are a few versions of this event, but even when the origin story of mole changes a bit, the truth is that mole is the culinary symbol of Mexican mestizaje where many ingredients, local and European came together as an iconic dish.
The states of Oaxaca and Puebla are the places where most mole sauces come from. There are many varieties, all of them unique and delicious. Yellow, red, black and green are just some of the few popular mole sauces. The different colours and flavours come from specific combinations of ingredients used for each mole paste.
What exactly makes a mole sauce while they look and taste so different from each other? As a rule of thumb, mole sauce is generally made with a base of nuts, chillies and fruits. These can be dried or even fresh.
Among the most popular ingredients in mole, one can find peanuts, sesame seeds, dried chillies, chocolate, spices, corn tortillas or stale bread, tomatillos and even hoja santa.
Making mole requires a lot of time, patience and love. Ingredients need to be selected, prepared individually and blended together gradually depending on the type of mole. Some moles have 20 or even 30 ingredients. The result is a beautifully rich paste, ready to be diluted with stock and served over chicken, turkey or vegetables.
How to try mole sauce
The easiest way to enjoy mole at home is by using store-bought mole paste. There are some fantastic options out there. Generally, they only need to be diluted in stock and served the traditional way with cooked chicken or turkey with a side of Mexican rice, such as we did in this lovely recipe for Easy Mexican Mole.
Another very popular way is to make enmoladas which are enchiladas covered in mole sauce instead of regular enchilada sauce. And for that, you don’t need to look any further than this delicious Enmoladas recipe!
Have you tried mole? Which one is your favourite?
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