This is Chiles en Nogada
El Mural de los Poblanos is a high end restaurant located in the historical centre of Puebla. It serves traditional poblano dishes and prides itself on locally sourcing all ingredients. El Mural considers itself to serve the most authentic and best tasting food of Puebla. It is part of the Tesoros de Mexico, ‘a group of hotels and restaurants that have gone through a careful selection process and meet the highest quality standards’ . The restaurant is named after a mural which covers one of the walls inside, which depicts many famous poblanos (I have to admit I didn’t recognise a single one) . There is much that can be discussed regarding this restaurant, as the menu is vast and covers a huge number of dishes important to the city such as Mole and street foods such as Chalupas and Cemitas. However I prefer to look at one dish in particular, and save other dishes (at different restaurants) for other posts. For a more in depth review of the restaurant and all its dishes check out this great post by blogger Docsconz.
The dish is called Chiles en Nogada. If you have ever been to Puebla in the summer, you will know that around July something in the air changes. Suddenly from nowhere, posters and banners appear everywhere advertising the dish. This is a poblano dish; authentic only to Puebla and only in season for the months of July, August and September.
So what are Chiles en Nogada? And why are they seasonal?
Chiles en Nogada are:
- poblano chiles filled with picadillo (which are then dunked in egg batter and fried)
- topped with a walnut based cream sauce (nogada)
- and pomegranate seeds
Many of the ingredients of the picadillo are seasonal and unique to Puebla such as special fruits like manzana panochera and pera de leche, but in particular the nogada is seasonal and only available for these brief months. El Mural prides itself on using the correct ingredients bought only from the state of Puebla, for example they do not use regular apples which are more easily sourced and cheaper. They make sure that the Chile en Nogada is made as it should be, to the very last detail.
The three elements give the three colours of the Mexican flag: green (chile), white (nogado salsa) and red (pomegranates). This is no coincidence, as the dish is tied historically to the independence of Mexico. As it is said it was famously served to Agustín de Iturbide (a general during the mexican war of independence).
The dish is served at room temperature (usually a little bit warm on the inside) , and is very sweet due to the sauce. The centre, which is filled with picadillo, is a fruit, spice and meat mixture which contributes to the sweet taste. The inside can often be a bit spicy due to the pepper, a taste which really compliments the sweetness of the creamy sauce.
Chiles en Nogada are best served with a white wine or a sparkling white wine. Accompanied with the dish is always bread, which is very important because you use it to mop up the delicious sauce. The bread can be a bit of a deal breaker, if the bread is not up to scratch, then it can really let the dish down. You want to have a nice crispy bread like photographed below.
So what makes El Mural de los Poblanos’ Chiles en Nogado so worth the visit? Well you can’t go wrong with any dish here – as a foreigner visiting Puebla, if you have a decent amount of money to spare, then this is the place to go because you know you are getting high quality cuisine which is truly poblano. And if you happen to be in season try the chiles! This is the real thing with every ingredient being directly sourced from local farmers.
If you want to make them at home here is a recipe though they say there are as many recipes for Chiles en Nogada as there are families in Mexico. An even better option is the cookery classes offered by the restaurant; if you are a keen chef or foodie check out more information on classes here.
Wherever you go in Puebla, don’t pass up on this very tasty poblano dish.
I will leave you with wise words, ‘Puebla is Mexico’s best kept secret’. No doubt about it; don’t pass up on visiting this magnificent city and all its delicious food.
Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!