Mole Verde


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Let's Eat

By Tom Parker Bowles

Published 2013

  • About

A mole is far more than mere sauce. ‘The King of Mexican cuisine,’ writes Patricia Quintana in The Taste of Mexico (1986). It’s a true Mexican mélange, available in a thousand different variations. One of the richest, and certainly the most famous, is the mole poblano from Puebla: it melds anise, clove, cinnamon, black peppers and chillies with garlic, tomatillos, sesame seeds, ground almonds, peanuts and bitter chocolate. A complex and time-consuming dish, sure, but magnificent, too. This is a green version, thickened with toasted pumpkin seeds and made verdant with coriander, tomatillo and lettuce. It’s rich and comforting, with a slight chilli kick.


  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt
  • 1 x 1.8 kg/4 lb chicken (the best you can afford), cut in half, then half again
  • boiled rice, to serve

For the Sauce

  • 100 g/ oz pumpkin seeds
  • 2 x 375 g cans tomatillos (; or use homegrown green tomatoes or 2 x 400 g cans chopped tomatoes), drained
  • 4 fresh jalapeño chillies (or from a jar in brine, drained), finely chopped
  • 6 large romaine lettuce leaves
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 40 g/ oz coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cm/¾ inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3–4 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
  • sea salt


Put 1.4 litres/ pints water in a saucepan, add the onion, bay leaf and a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. Add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are fully immersed, skim off any scum, put a lid on and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through. Let the chicken cool in the broth, then remove it and set it aside. Strain the broth into a bowl and skim off the fat with kitchen paper.

To make the sauce, heat a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then pour in the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. When the first seed pops, cook and stir for up to 5 minutes, until all have popped. Leave to cool. Grind in a food processor or spice grinder, then stir into 200 ml/7 fl oz of the chicken cooking broth.

Put the tomatillos and chillies into a blender. Tear the lettuce leaves and add to the blender, along with the onion, garlic and coriander. Grind the cumin, peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, then add to the blender and blitz until smooth.

Heat the lard or oil in a large saucepan and, when hot, add the pumpkin seed mixture and cook, stirring, until it thickens and darkens – about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillo and spice blend and cook, stirring for a few more minutes, until darker still.

Add 400 ml/14 fl oz of the broth, reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.

Shred the chicken, removing the skin, and add to the simmering sauce. Cook to heat through for 10 minutes. Serve with rice.