Like Water for Chocolate- by Laura Esquivel, has always been a book that I have savoured. A book that involves romance, tragedy and food. Three key ingredients that can hardly go wrong in a best selling novel. A sumptuous feast of a book that follows the main character Tita, and her life long love Pedro.
Writing about mindfulness recently, I was reminded of it, so I re-read it again. This book talks of emotions being felt when cooking and the taste of that emotion in the end result. Causing anyone that eats the food to be effected by it. When the main character is in love, the love comes out in her cooking. When she feels sad and bitter while making her sister’s wedding cake, the eating result is everyone is left with a tearful longing, ending with a collective vomiting.
The scene of the final wedding feast where everyone has paired off after eating chillies in walnut sauce, makes for wonderful imagery.
I wanted to cook like Tita. Or at least a little Mexican influenced. So with Mole on my mind I did an easy version. Not because I wanted it to be easy, but because time availability dictates what I can cook. (The monkeys are busy business.) I wanted to play around with the flavours of different spices, the chicken, and the chocolate. To be cooked as mindfully as I could, and to put as much love and attention in as I could muster.
Having never tasted a dish like this before, I was unsure of what to expect. But I liked every ingredient that went in, so it had a good head start.
Tasting it, after I had made the sauce, my taste buds weren’t sure what was going on. It had an almost earthy taste, I’m guessing from the 85% Cocoa I had put in. A curious taste that had my mouth, zinging from one side to another to find another different subtle taste to briefly savour. It had certainly been cooked mindfully, the monkeys were sidetracked and I could put all my love and attention into my little mexican novel cooking inspiration. But had I put too much?
Making the mole the the day before. The next day, I cooked it in a baking dish with chicken legs and added some tomato passata. I felt it needed the added zingy-ness that you get from good tomatoes. Cooked for about an hour at 200 C.
The end result?…
Not bad. I didn’t think “Woohoo Mama!”, and launch myself at my husband, but I didn’t start sobbing and vomiting either. It was certainly flavoursome, packed a chilli punch, and it was a stray out of the usual food street I walk. Served with some rice, flaked almonds and sesame seeds on top.
And when it really comes down to it… it was really all about the book anyway.
Chilli Chocolate Chicken
A good dollop of olive oil
1 diced onion
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 1/2 tps cinnamon
1 tps smoked paprika
1 tps nutmeg
2 tps cumin
2 tps coriander
1 tps dried chilli
salt to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup masala
1/4 cup muscavado sugar
250mls vegetable stock
50 grams 85% cocoa chocolate
Everything cooked in that order, with the broken chocolate added in at the end when the sauce has been turned off the heat.