Mole tamales

Time 2 hours
Yields Makes about 20 tamales.
Mole tamales
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)



Place the tomatoes and water in a medium pot and boil for 20 minutes; the tomatoes will be very soft and almost falling apart. Remove from heat and puree; the puree will be somewhat thick.


Strain the tomatoes back into the pot, discarding the seeds, and stir in the mole paste until the paste is fully incorporated.


Heat the mole mixture over medium heat and stir in the chicken broth, salt and chocolate until dissolved. Increase the heat, stirring constantly, until the mole comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.



Beat the lard vigorously until soft, then add the masa and baking powder until fully incorporated. Slowly stir in the water, a little at a time, until the masa is smooth and soft, and will spread easily onto a banana leaf.


Pat the leaves dry and cut into rectangles approximately 12 inches by 10 inches.


Smear about 3/4 cup of masa across each square and place a generous ¼ cup of chicken and 3 to 4 tablespoons mole right in the middle of the tamal.


Fold the tamale: Fold the lower, then upper thirds of the tamale lengthwise over the center and filling, then fold the two sides in to form a packet. Repeat with all of the tamales.


Steam the tamales until the masa in the center is fully cooked (it will peel away from the banana leaves without sticking), about one hour. Serve hot.

Guelaguetza’s mole is available through the restaurant as well as online; black mole is available in the Latin sections of most well-stocked supermarkets, as well as at Latin markets and online. Freshly prepared masa and Oaxacan chocolate is available at many Latin markets; the chocolate can also be found online.

Jonathan Gold was the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007 and was a finalist again in 2011. A Los Angeles native, he began writing the Counter Intelligence column for the L.A. Weekly in 1986, wrote about death metal and gangsta rap for Rolling Stone and Spin among other places, and was delighted that he managed to forge a career out of the professional eating of tacos. Gold died July 21, 2018.
Get our new Cooking newsletter, coming soon.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.