Ever since those earlier seasons of Masterchef when all the cool dudes started plating up tacos using handmade tortillas, Australia’s love affair with Mexican cuisine hit another level. A host of eateries offering Tex-Mex, Cali-Mex & all kinds of Americana opened up. In search of some traditional Mexican cuisine, I put the question out to some of the Mexican expats at my Spanish language Meet Up group: What dish from home do you miss the most? Chicken Mole was a popular answer. So in celebration of Mexico’s Independence day, I cooked up some Chicken Mole, Poblano style.

Mole (“mo-lay”) stems from an Aztec word for sauce, and Poblana refers to the state of Puebla, in Mexico, which is famous for the dish. Legend has it that a group of 16th century nuns invented the dish for a visiting archbishop using whatever they had on hand. I’ve adapted a recipe from Diana Kennedy. A few of you may raise an eyebrow at her surname and wonder exactly how traditional this recipe could be. Rest assured, her recipes are old school Mexican. “Señora Kennedy” lived and travelled around Mexico chronicling all kinds of regional recipes and was even awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican republic for her efforts.

Pollo en Mole Poblano
Serves 6
Take a leisurely afternoon
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
1668 calories
193 g
232 g
71 g
70 g
17 g
890 g
363 g
45 g
0 g
43 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1668
Calories from Fat 625
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 71g
Saturated Fat 17g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 13g
Monounsaturated Fat 30g
Cholesterol 232mg
Sodium 363mg
Total Carbohydrates 193g
Dietary Fiber 22g
Sugars 45g
Protein 70g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. The Chicken
  2. 8 thigh pieces with bones in, or 1.5kg of chicken pieces (skin on is even better otherwise skinless is fine)
  3. 7 garlic cloves
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 3 small tomatoes
  6. Half an onion chopped
  7. The Chilli Mixture
  8. 6 pasilla chillies
  9. 8 mulato chillies
  10. 6 ancho chillies
  11. 2 tablesoons vegetable oil
  12. 1.5 litres of hot water
  13. The Almond mixture
  14. ½ cup tomatillos
  15. 5 whole cloves
  16. 20 whole black peppercorns
  17. ½ inch cinnamon stick
  18. ½ teaspoon anise seeds
  19. ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  20. 8 tablespoons sesame seeds
  21. ½ cup raisins until they puff up
  22. ½ cup whole almonds unskinned
  23. 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds hulled (pepitas)
  24. 2 corn tortillas torn
  25. 3 small French rolls, cut into 1inch slices
  26. 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  27. Lastly
  28. 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  29. Salt to taste
  30. Sugar to taste
  31. 1 tablet of Mexican drinking chocolate, broken into smaller pieces
  32. To serve
  33. 600g long grain rice
  34. ½ cup frozen green peas
  35. 8 corn tortillas
  1. The Chicken
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  3. Place chicken pieces in a pot large enough to fit them in one layer.
  4. Add onion, 3 cloves of peeled garlic and salt. Add water to cover the ingredients by about an inch. Bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and leave chicken in the hot water to finish cooking for 15 minutes. Strain and keep the chicken broth for later. Transfer chicken to bowl, cover & refrigerate until the last step. Set the leftover onion and garlic aside.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, roast 3 small tomatoes and 4 garlic cloves with skin on at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes. If you wish, you can then turn the grill on for 5 minutes to have blackened tomatoes and garlic.
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  7. The Chilli Mixture
  8. Remember to wear gloves to handle the chillies. Clean the dry chillies with a wet paper towel. Using a knife or kitchen scissors, remove stems, veins and seeds. You may find that when you cut the stem off, you can just tip the seeds out of the chilli. Keep 1 tablespoon of the chilli seeds aside. Try to open the chillies flat so you can dry roast them on a frying pan for a few seconds on each side. Put the chilies in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for half an hour. Drain the chillies and keep the water. After the chillies have soaked, blend them with just enough of the soaking water, to form a smooth paste. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the chilli mixture for 15 minutes then put in a bowl and set aside.
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  12. The Almond mixture
  13. Use a food processor or blender to blend ½ cup tomatillos, the leftover onions from the strained chicken broth, the leftover garlic from the strained chicken broth, the roasted tomatoes, and the roasted garlic cloves (after removing the skin).
  14. Grind in mortar and pestle (or coffee / spice grinder if you have one) 5 whole cloves, 20 whole black peppercorns and ½ inch cinnamon stick.
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  16. Toast the anise seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and reserved chilli seeds separately on a dry frying pan.
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  18. Keep 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds aside then add the rest to the mortar and pestle (or coffee / spice grinder), and grind it all up. Add all the contents of the mortar and pestle to the blender with the tomatillos and blend it all together. You don’t have to, but I like to add the sesame seeds to a different mortar and pestle, and grind the sesame seeds separately. I feel like I get a finer result, but that is just me.
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  20. Fry the raisins (until they puff up), whole almonds (unskinned), pepitas, corn tortillas (torn), and small French rolls (cut into 1inch slices), separately, with a tablespoon of vegetable oil each.
  21. Add all of these to the blender also, and blend all together. Add some of the chicken broth from earlier, to help form a smooth paste.
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  23. Lastly
  24. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan on medium heat. Add both the chilli mixture and the almond mixture then add the Mexican chocolate and heat, stirring, for 15 minutes. Add up to 5 cups of the chicken broth until the consistency is saucy. Add salt and sugar to taste. Turn heat to low and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken and heat through for another 15 minutes.
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  28. To serve
  29. Cook rice, peas & tortillas according to their packet instructions.
  30. Fluff rice & add peas to it. Sprinkle the chicken mole with the reserved toasted sesame seeds. (Leftover sauce can be frozen and used later on some enchiladas).
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  1. Avoid using aluminium bowls, as the ingredients in this recipe are acidic and react with aluminium
  2. Also known as Mexican green tomatoes, the tomatillo looks like a small green tomato with a papery covering or husk. They have a distinctive tart flavor. I had to use a tomatillo substitute, small unripe tomatoes with a squeeze of lime juice.
  3. Anise seeds can be substituted with star anise which is stronger, or fennel seed which is a milder sweeter liquorice flavour. I used star anise which I had crushed in a mortar and pestle.
  4. Popular brands of Mexican drinking chocolate include Ibarra or Abeulita’s. It can be substituted with 45g of dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa.
I Ate My Way Through https://iatemywaythrough.com/

Migration from Mexico to Australia has been relatively low, so some of the ingredients such as the chillies, tortillas, tomatillos, and Mexican drinking chocolate, are not readily available everywhere, but can be found online or in specialty stores. A testament to the wonder that is Mexican cuisine, is how it has grown in global popularity. Many of the national cuisines that have won fans outside of their own borders, have done so due to their migrant communities in other countries. Take Chinese, Italian or Indian for example. Yet somehow Mexican food has gained devotees across the globe despite the lack of a significant diaspora (outside of the US). So whilst you may not be able to pick up some pasilla chillies from your local Woolies, I can tell you this dish is totally worth a little extra effort. It pays off big time in the taste department with complex earthy flavours to complement the chicken.


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