I was first introduced to mole when I was very little. It was my grandfather’s birthday and the house was full of people all coming to enjoy my grandmother’s cooking. I remember seeing my grandmother gather various ingredients in the days leading up to the party: plump tomatoes and colorful dried chili peppers, almonds, spices, and even chocolate. To think all those things resulted in a brown-ish paste — well, I was confused.
But my first taste was like nothing I’d ever had — I loved it instantly. It was sweet, smoky and just a tad spicy. My family had been training me to eat chili ever since I was two years old, so a little spice was nothing, even to my young palate. After that day, I always looked forward to my grandpa’s birthday dinner.
The word mole simply means a mixture of things. For instance, the word guacamole broken into two is guac for aguacate (or avocado) and mole, meaning a mixture of ingredients. Many people are intimidated by the sound and look of mole, equating it to simply being a chocolate sauce; but mole is so much more. Mole is mostly known to come from Oaxaca and Puebla, but it is made all over Mexico. All mole consists of the same basic ingredients: dried chili peppers, nuts, seeds, spices and a binder.
This recipe is a simple version my grandmother made. The beauty of mole is you can get as creative as you feel and you really can’t go wrong. Mole making isn’t an exact science; this recipe is more of a guideline and we advise using your own senses to adjust accordingly to your own taste. Give it a try and start your own mole tradition.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken stock
10 ancho chiles
10 guajillo chiles
3 garlic cloves
½ tablespoon of cinnamon
½ tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 slice of fried bread
½ tablet of chocolate (Ibarra brand, preferably)
Handful of almonds (my grandmother’s measurement)
1. Sauté chiles whole in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, then soak in water to soften, about 15 minutes.
2. Once chile is soft, remove seeds and stems. Sauté remaining ingredients (except chocolate) one by one and set aside.
3. If using a molcajete, grind items one at a time; or if using blender, blend all items at once, using the water used to soak chiles.
4. Heat the mole paste in a saucepan with oil. Add chicken stock. Pour mole over chicken.