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Oct 14, 2007 02:10 PM

Mole(mex) and Curry(India)have something in common

Being a Mexican Food fan especially Mole all the types I thought this was interesting-

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  1. Really interesting, and though I never would have thought of the connection it certainly makes sense.

    1. A some differences come to mind:
      - mole sauces are typically cooked separately from the meat, though broth from the meat is used to thin the base.
      - most Indian stews/curries recipes that I've tried, cook the meat with the spices. Some spice mixes are added at the end (garam masala). Other mixes are pureed and fried at the start of the dish.
      - bread and nuts are a key thickener in moles. This is also true of some Spanish sauces (remesco, Catalan picada)
      - I don't recall Indian recipes that use such thickeners. Seems the many Indian stews get their body from cooked down onions.


      3 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        You mention that using nuts as a thickener is unique to Mexican moles. Not true. My sister-in-laws are all excellent Gujurati cooks (Gujurat is a state in Western India) and they all frequently use peanuts as thickening agents in their curries. In fact, when I am cooking Gujurati dishes for friends, I make a point of asking about peanut allergies: as many of our dishes contain peanuts but the taste is not obvious.

        Well, I guess technically peanuts aren't a nut. But they are a common ingredient in Indian and Mexican cooking. Fascinating article, btw. My husband and I have long noted the similarities...and we both love both cuisines.

        1. re: janetofreno

          It should be noted that Peanuts are originally from Andean South America (Peru, Brazil etc.,) and were foraged by the various tribes... they made their way to Mexico (via the pre-hispanic trade routes).... where they were first cultivated intensively.... particularly in Central Mexico.

          The Spanish brought the peanut to Europe (where it failed as a crop)... but most importantly to Africa where it became a crucial nutrient, but played a sinister role in the Slave Trade (it was one of the things the Spanish used as payment).... the Portugese soon thereafter also found sources of Peanut in their portion of the Andes.... and similarly used it to broker slaves.... and later brought it to their colony in Western India.

          There was a point in history when Spain & Portugal were involved in a complex trading arrangement that ended bringing lots of products from the Indian sub-continent (mangos, tamarind etc.) to New Spain (Mexico) in exchange for Mexican products like Peanuts, Chiles etc.,

          Curiously.... Indian cuisine is one that my parents really took to here in the U.S.... when we "splurged" at some Indian restaurant in the burbs... I think my Dad used to like pretending that Indian dishes were actually the Mexican dishes he missed the most..... Goat Curry was a proxy for Oaxacan style Goat Barbacoa, the Chickpea is in the spicy red stew... were Chickpeas in Adobo & Chicken Tikka was Chicken al Pastor etc., etc.,

        2. re: paulj

          northern Indian cuisine uses ground almonds as thickeners in kormas. Moghul cuisine.

        3. thanks for the great article!

          1. Very intriguing.

            I'm not sure why I didn't make the connection when I figured out that the best way for me to approximate Spanish rice was to make a version of pilaf...

            1. I am familiar with both cuisines and I have postulated about this, too. The flat breads, the roasting of spices, reliance on some of the same spices, using ground nuts in gravies, etc. Actually, it is really quite a coincidence how much the two cuisines have in common generally speaking. I agree with the author's references to the Muslim influence, but I think the indigenous cuisines have a lot in common besides that just as a coincidence.

              Re paulj: bread would never be used to thicken and Indian gravy, but there are many traditional recipes for North Indian and Pakistani food that use nuts as a thickener. But most people use short cuts or don't make these that often.

              Many traditional Mexican sweets are similar to Indo-Pak sweets, too. Both puddings and reduction sweets (reductions of milk cooked with sugar, or nuts fried and cooked with sugar).

              The roasted and grilled meats of Indo-Pak cuisine are Mongol origin---the Mongols brought it to the Arabs, the Arabs brought it to Spain, the Spaniards brought it to Mexico.

              Though N. Indian/Paki flat breads are made with whole wheat flour or a mix of white and wheat, and MX flour tortillas are traditionally white flour, they serve the same purpose. In addition, there is an Indo-Pak corn based flat bread (makai ki roti) that is eaten daily in some regions, and also used to accompany certain specific dishes.

              Just uncanny, really.

              2 Replies
              1. re: luckyfatima

                Thanks for the great further in depth comparison. Nice expansion on the article.

                1. re: luckyfatima

                  in fact, luckyfatima, you might want to contact the authors of the article with your insights. i think they would appreciate it and it might start a really neat (chowish) dialogue!