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Chiles en Nogada is a dish from Mexico

Now is the time for the traditional Chiles en Nogada seasonal dish.

chile en nogada traditional mexican dish

Traveling to Mexico? Try Chiles en Nogada, a traditional seasonal dish.

This Mexican seasonal dish leaves a lasting memory. Traditionally, Chiles en nogada are prepared from August to September (often into the month of October).

Foodies all over the world await the seasonal Chiles en nogada.

Other places that serve Chiles en nogada include Mexico city and other states. The preparation, the recipe and the serving of the Chiles en nogada dish may vary depending on ingredient availability, preferences and taste.

What is Chiles en Nogada?

Chiles en Nogada is a dish from Mexico. Chiles en Nogada consists of a poblano chile pepper with a filling (picadillo)of a mixture, usually seasonal fruit, shredded meat, and aromatics/spices, served with a topping (capeado) of a walnut-based cream sauce (nogada), and garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Traditionally, it is served at room temperature.   The traditional season for Chiles en Nogada is August to September. In Central Mexico, this is the season of walnuts, poblano peppers, pomegranates, and other seasonal fruit.

What makes Chiles en Nogada so special and delicious?

First of all, Chiles en Nogada are made from the season’s best ingredients in the state of Puebla. Their recipe is based on a mixture of cultures. It is a mixture of flavors and textures, a culinary standard of Mexican patriotism.

The green (poblano) chile peppers making up this dish grow in the valleys of two volcanoes, Iztaccihuatl and Popcateptl, and are picked fresh during this season.

Next, the fruits and seeds used in the preparation of the include apples, pears, and walnuts. These are not just any pears and apples, they are unique to the nearby orchards and also seasonal. The poblano peppers are delicately “stuffed” with the fruit mixture combination.

The creamy dressing (nogada) that covers the poblano pepper is made of a combination of local goat cheese, double cream, walnuts and sherry. The mixture is a creamy cheese sauce in a base of walnuts. Also seasonal, are the pomegranate seeds that are used to top off the dish, being both a flavorful ingredient and decoration. Parsley (cilantro) also tops off the creamy poblano dish.

The filling (picadillo) is well seasoned, the topping (capeado) is flavorful and not too thick. It has a balance of sweet with spicy and salty, with the sweetness of the spectacular walnut sauce (nogada) and the salty of the filling.  The preparation process is very laborious.

Lastly, they are served at room temperature. This dish seduces the palates of those who taste it.

Visually, the dish is presented in traditional tri-colored serving, a representation of the colors of the Mexican flag. Chiles en Nogada is a source of pride. Its coloration, the green poblano chile pepper, its white sauce, and red pomegranate, are the colors of the flag of Mexico.   It is widely considered a national dish of Mexico. Its flavors and colors promote patriotism, tied to a time of the year of independence festivities. The dish is considered a legend.

Origin of Chiles en Nogada

 The traditional Chile en Nogada is from Puebla. Its origin is tied to Mexican Independence. It is said that when the future emperor, Agustín de Iturbide, passed through the state of Puebla, after signing the Treaty of Cordoba, chiles en nogada were prepared for the first time. During this Baroque era, the inventors of this dish were cloistered nuns, who created the dish for his entertainment.   Some Mexican historians believe the dish was created by the Madres Contemplativas Agustinas of the convent of Santa Mónica, Puebla, while others think it was the Monjas Clarisas.   A recipe was invented that combined a variety of flavors with patriotic colors.  

Chiles en Nogada and their ingredients

The poblano chile pepper is slightly spicy.

The poblano chile pepper is slightly spicy.

The picadillo usually consists of a variety of minced fillings. The fruit is seasonal, at its point of maturity. Panochera apple (manzana panochera), sweet-milk pear (pera de leche) and criollo peach (durazno criollo). The topping (capeador) consists of a cream sauce, usually of milk, double cream, fresh cheese, sherry, and walnuts. This nogada sauce, traditionally includes Castilian walnuts (nogal de Castilla).

Chiles en Nogada: original recipe

The preparation of Chiles en Nogada requires experience and dedication. Essentially, there is no base recipe. For generations, cooks and chefs have elaborated a Chiles en Nogada dish that has always been. The ingredients and their seasonality are respected. Usually, the selection of the fruit comes first, the quality, maturity and freshness. Then the fruit is washed/cleaned and chopped.   Purists from Puebla insist on the preservation of its main components. Yet it is said that there are as many recipes as there are families in Puebla.   According to some purists the capeado is an essential component, along with the poblano pepper, in the profuse emotions that tasting it produces.  

There is no single or absolute recipe. There is no record or historical document indicating how Chiles en nogada were made.  

Did you know?

It is presumed that the restaurant El mural de los Poblanos was the first to serve Chiles en Nogada.  

The University of the Americas, in Puebla, is studying the origins of Chiles en Nogada.