Coloradito 5.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Best Cookbooks 2019 Dec 9, 2019

Every group of diners at Guelaguetza, the great Oaxacan restaurant in Los Angeles, is greeted with a gratis plate of chips drizzled with Coloradito mole and crumbles of fresh cheese. It’s a gift from the house, and it's likely few patrons realize how much effort goes into the freebie.

Exactly 20 ingredients are needed for Guelaguetza’s Coloradito mole, and many of them require toasting, grinding, sauteing or soaking before they’re ready to mix into the sauce. The result of all this effort, however, is a mole of understated complexity, perfect in a wide variety of applications. You can use it as a sauce for roast chicken or, as the restaurant does, a dip for tortilla chips.

NOTE: During tomato season, you can sub out the Romas for tomatoes fresh from the vine, the sweeter the better.

Where to Buy: Mexican chocolate is a unique product, often mixed with vanilla, cinnamon or both. You can buy 2.7-ounce discs online from Taza Chocolate. The company’s chocolates can frequently be found at Whole Foods, too. Dried guajillos and hoja santa leaves are staples at any Latin American grocery store.

5 - 7

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 5-7 servings; makes 3 cups

  • 3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) diced Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 small white onion, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (3 1/4-ounce) bar Mexican chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 hoja santa leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more as needed


Fill a small saucepan with several cups of water, enough to cover the chiles, and bring to a boil Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat, add the chiles and cover with a lid. Let the chiles sit for 30 minutes, until soft and tender. Transfer the chiles to a plate covered with paper towels, and reserve one cup of the soaking liquid.

Place the tomatoes in a pot with two tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes soften and start to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside.

In a skillet or comal over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, cinnamon, bread crumbs, oregano, thyme, peppercorns and cloves, stirring frequently until the mixture is fragrant and the sesame seeds take on a light, golden color, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the cinnamon. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool.

Place the toasted herbs and spices in a molcajete or a spice grinder and grind until the mixture becomes a fine powder.

Place the reconstituted chiles in a blender with a ½ cup of the reserved soaking liquid. Add the raisins, almonds, onion and garlic and blend until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chile mixture and the herbs-and-spice mixture, and stir until the ingredients are incorporated, about 2 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to scorch the mixture. Add the other ½ cup of soaking liquid to the pot and simmer for another 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and chocolate, stirring frequently until the ingredients are incorporated and the sauce turns dark with chocolate.

Add the chicken stock, bay leaf and hoja santa leaf to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The mole should have the consistency of heavy cream. Add the salt and check for taste. Add more salt as necessary

Remove the bay leaf and hoja santa leaf, and serve with tortilla chips or fresh tortillas. Or use as a sauce for chicken or fried eggs.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico” by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA’s Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral. (Abrams, 2019).

Tested by Tim Carman.

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