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

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I love growing jalapenos as they are relatively easy to grow and the plants produce abundantly provided you have a long, dry sunny summer. This year, mine didn’t produce well as summer in Wellington was virtually non-existent. I love pickling them as that way I can enjoy year long and tend to use them in different ways. I use them as a pizza topping, in tacos and burritos, chop finely and add them to a dipping sauce or a marinade and in hummus. They are very much a staple in my pantry and if you know how quick it is to make a jar yourself, you won’t be buying them again. You can scale the recipe down too.



1 kilo jalapeno peppers

4 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

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Most cuisines have their version of salsa verde. It is simply a green sauce – in India it is coriander chutney, in Britain it is a mint sauce, France it is simply verte using herbs like parsley. This salsa verde is Mexican in it’s origin and made from tomatillos.


Tomatillos are not baby tomatoes although you can be forgiven for thinking they are. Tomatillos once dehusked look like small green tomatoes.

Tomatillos (botanical name is Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Being slightly more acidic than tomatoes, they are great roasted. You can make a great salsa with raw tomatillos too.

Salsa Verde

In New Zealand, there are a few growers in the Hawkes Bay and they are available only through specialist supermarkets. I got a good crop out of the seeds I planted last year. You can use tinned tomatillos if you can’t get fresh ones.


500g fresh tomatillos or 200g tinned tomatillos

2-3 Hungarian peppers (optional)

Olive oil for roasting

10-12 cloves of garlic

4-6 fresh green chillies, chopped (seeded if you prefer less heat)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil like Canola

75g brown onion, finely diced

1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Salt and ground pepper


If using fresh tomatillos, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Remove husks from fruit, rinse in warm water and towel dry. Place tomatillos in a roasting pan, along with the Hungarian peppers and cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for 30 -40 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp from the garlic cloves. In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatillos, garlic, peppers and chillies. The salsa verde is nicer if it is chunky so take care not to make the sauce too smooth.

Heat remaining vegetable oil in a pan and cook onion until soft. Add tomatillo mixture and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat. Add coriander, salt and pepper.

Store in sterile jars in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


As long as you have the basics you can build tacos with just about anything you fancy. My vegan tacos are quite easy to prepare and are absolutely delicious.

Build your own taco


500 grams firm tofu

200 grams coarse polenta for dusting

90 grams chick pea flour

½ teaspoon chilli powder

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