Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry #4 Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada is the signature dish of the Mexican Independence celebrations.  It contains the three colours of the Mexican flag - the green of the chile poblano, the white of the sauce and the red of the pomegranate (which happens to be in season in September).  It is also, to a novice like me, devilishly complicated to make, but really delicious when well-made.

Things To Do In Mexico When You're Hungry - Chiles En Nogada

I confess I've never attempted to make it myself, but I have witnessed it being made in my kitchen!  I mentioned a little bit about that experience in this post from just over a year ago.

The chile poblano is a big and usually very mild chilli, and is skinned and de-seeded before being stuffed with a mixture of minced meat cooked with spices, nuts and fresh and dried fruit.  There's an interesting combination of sweet and savoury ingredients in this dish.  The white sauce is made with cream, cream cheese and walnuts, and the brilliant red pomegranate seeds are sprinkled over the top.  It is very elaborate; the dish in the photo was made by my husband's cousin and she spent what seemed like hours and hours - with several helpers - preparing it!  It tasted divine, though.

There are various different legends about the origins of this dish, going back to the times of the struggle for independence.  In the best-known version, three nuns in a convent in the city of Puebla (Puebla is generally acknowledged to be the birthplace of Chiles en Nogada) decided to create an original dish in honour of Agustin Iturbide, the leader of the insurgents, as he passed through the city in August 1821 after having signed the Treaty of Cordoba which finally ended the War of Independence.  The three colours - green, white and red - of the insurgent army flag represented the three values of Religion, Unity and Independence, and that's why the nuns decided to include these colours in the dish.

There are other versions of this legend and also many versions of the dish, with slight variations in the ingredients, but the key is the balance of sweet, savoury and spicy flavours in perfect, surprising and delicious harmony.

Provecho and Viva México!


  1. I love chiles en nogada!! But they are a pain to make. I wrote a post about it. If you have a minute, check it out :)

    1. I'll have a look at your post - I'm not sure I would dare to try making them myself! Thanks for your comment!