Lately I’ve been watching An Idiot Abroad, the tales of Karl Pilkington visiting the seven wonders of the world and not particularly appreciating them. One of his observations that made me chuckle is that Mexico is a country of crazy traditions all born out of people daring each other to do things (play with fireworks, nail people to crosses at Easter, put worms in tequila, etc). I’ve been to Mexico just once, and it barely counts – a night out in Tijuana before crossing the border back to San Diego. It wasn’t an especially favourable glimpse at the country either - predominantly just tatty souvenir shops, pharmacies where the Americans nip over and stock up, and bars, where in the spirit of dares and recklessness I drank moonshine and tequila shots for the first (and presumably last) time in my life.
But I would very much like to have a more authentic experience of Mexico, complete with a trip to Chichen Itza- hopefully without the fireworks and bull-riding that Mr Pilkington witnessed.
And let’s face it, the food would be amazing. I’ve always enjoyed the name of this dish, but didn’t have a clue what it was referring to – in fact, mole is a type of sauce from Mexico. It should be made from fresh chilli peppers, but this is the lazy variety and not a true mole…but it’s always fun to say that you had mole for dinner!
Bean & Vegetable Mole
Serves 4-6, from Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Cookbook
3 tbsp oil
2 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chilli powder (more if you like it hot)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins kidney beans, NOT drained
150ml tomato juice
1 tbsp lime juice
15g dark chocolate, grated
coriander leaves, to garnish (omitted from mine as I couldn’t get hold of any)
1. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic, potato and spices for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice and kidney beans, with their liquid, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate pan and fry the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until soft and golden.
4. Add the mushrooms, lime juice and chocolate to the pan, stir to combine and cook for 5 more minutes. Season and serve – with rice it serves 6 people, without just 4.