The term mole stems from the Nahuatl world molli, which means “sauce” or “concoction.” Mole comes from a family of sauces prepared throughout the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico and is characterized by a complex, layered flavour derived from intricate blends of dried chillies, spices, fruits, and seasonings. If you have read some of my previous posts, I talked about similarities between Mexican and Indian cooking. Incidentally there is molee in Kerala and historians possibly believe it is a Portuguese influence. Going back to the feature recipe, I served mine with quinoa, red cabbage salad and an avocado salsa topped with a lime yoghurt sauce. You can get creative and imaginative with your plating.

I also read that it is better to pressure cook your beans and I always soak my quinoa for an hour or so before cooking. Remember when you cook any grain, resting it for 5 -10 minutes after cooking is necessary to allow the grain to bloom fully.

Black beans in a mole sauce


250g dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight

40g cashew nuts

250g onions, roughly chopped, divided

3-4 garlic, chopped

200g carrots, chopped

5 teaspoons tomato paste

1 cup vegetable stock

1-2 red chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin seed powder

1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

Salt and pepper


Rinse the soaked beans and pressure cook them. If you do not have a pressure cooker, add enough water to cover the beans by about two centimetres of water. Cook them stirring intermittently for about 45 minutes to an hour making sure that it doesn’t boil dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan and fry the cashew nuts till golden brown. Add three fourths of the onions to the pan and fry on low heat for ten minutes.

Mix in the garlic and fry till you get the smell of garlic. Then add the carrots and fry for 3-4 minutes. Spoon in the tomato paste, so it touches the bottom of the pan and caramelizes.

Add the chillies, oregano and cumin seed powder. Pour the vegetable stock and 300mls of water. Let it come up to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, till the carrots are soft. Use a stick blender and blend to a rough puree.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

In a clean saucepan, fry the remaining onions for 3-4 minutes using a tablespoon of oil. Mix in the beans and season with salt and pepper. Spoon in the puree. Give a good mix and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Adjust seasoning and add the cocoa powder. Mix and cook for a couple more minutes.  Serve hot with quinoa, salad and toppings of your choice.

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