While the popularization of one of Mexico’s national dishes, mole (pronounced: moh-lay), is often credited with the mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, the origin of the dish is still disputed. However, there is one popular story that describes how the delicious Mexican staple came to be.
According to legend, mole was created in the year 1700 at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles when sister Andrea de la Asunción was trying to create a new dish to serve the Spanish Viceroy Thomas Antonio who visited the abbey. The nuns went to work chopping, grinding, and roasting chiles and other ingredients, but soon realized the dish was slightly too tart and spicy. So, to mellow the flavors, they added cacao, almond, and chocolate along with 18 other ingredients.
They boiled down the components for almost an entire day and it became the thick, rich mole sauce we now know. The legend seems to lose consistency here between different accounts; however, according to one version, the nuns used the only protein they had available: an old turkey, and poured the sauce over the meat. The Viceroy loved his meal and the nuns celebrated their success. And from that day, mole poblano was born.
Today, you can order mole at almost any Mexican restaurant and even eat the delicious sauce with enchiladas. But if you travel to Mexico and try the authentic dish, you’ll find that nearly every town and every family uses their own recipe. Even still, the sauce maintains its characteristic sweet overtones trailed by smoky spices. Besides being absolutely delicious, it is clear why mole has has been embraced by people across Mexico. It’s an amazing expression of mestizo culture with indigenous roots, Spanish flare, and Mexican soul.
Looking to try your hand at the famous mole poblano? Click here to check out an amazing recipe from Rick Bayless.