Mexican Cuisine

Which food is considered a national dish of Mexico?

And the answer: Mole Poblano.

A plate of chicken with mole poblano, and rice on the side

An ancient dish native to the Mexican state of Puebla, mole poblano is a sauce and marinade that's most often served with turkey. It contains nuts, chili pepper, and spices, but also chocolate, which counteracts the heat from the chili pepper.

The origins of mole poblano date back to the sophisticated, thousand-year-old Persian cuisine which was adopted by Moslems in Baghdad and went on to spread to other Moslem cities. As Spain gained territory in America during the 16th century, their cuisine traveled with them, including that which had originally been adopted from the Moslems. Among them was what would become mole poblano, created through the replacement of some of the usual Spanish ingredients with those native to America.

In addition to its possible Persian origins, there are a number of myths and legends surrounding the creation of mole poblano. One legend claims that in the 16th century, the archbishop made an unannounced visit to the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles. Panicking because they had nothing to serve him, the nuns prayed for an angel to inspire them for a dish. They mixed various types of chiles with spices, day-old bread, nuts, chocolate, and around 20 other ingredients. After hours of boiling, this concoction reduced to the rich mole sauce we are familiar with today. The nuns killed an old turkey, which was the only meat they had, and poured the sauce over it. Ignorant of the circumstances surrounding the dish's creation, the archbishop fawned over the plate in front of him.

Want to try mole poblano for yourself? Check out this recipe to make this signature Mexican dish at home.

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