This September, dine at Hacienda Sisal Mexican Restaurant in Cancun. Try some culinary masterpieces, the show stopping recipes that have earned this country its rightful place on the World Heritage list for its rich cuisine. Here are some suggestions, all are on the Hacienda Sisal menu.

Chiles en Nogada

The recipe for Chiles en Nogada features poblano chilies with a tasty sweet-savory filling topped with a creamy walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, coriander and parsley, the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green.

The story goes that in 1821, General Agustín de Iturbide visited the city of Puebla after signing the Treaty of Córdoba, the agreement that gave Mexico its Independence from Spain. He decided to celebrate his saint’s day in the city: August 28, the day of St Augustine, and the city’s elders held a banquet in his honor. The nuns of Santa Monica Convent were caught up in the fervor of his visit and invented a special dish to commemorate his visit and the birth of a nation, using the colors of the new flag: red, white and green.

Poblano chilies are stuffed with a filling of ground pork and beef cooked with chopped dried fruit (raisins, citron, peach and apple), spices, garlic and onion. The chilies are topped with a creamy white sauce made from ground walnuts, almonds and sherry. Pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro and parsley complete the color sequence.

Mole: a blend of chocolate, chili and spices

Have you ever tried mole, one of Mexico’s classic dishes? Served over chicken or turkey, this smooth sauce blends the complex flavors of chocolate and a touch of mild chili with garlic, ground tortillas, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, mole is served with rice and onion slices.

Mole is made according to family recipes passed down from generation to generation. The word ‘mole’ is derived from the Aztec word molli for sauce and the recipe is a true blend of New and Old World ingredients: pre-Hispanic staples and spices introduced by the Spaniards during the Colonial period. Spanish diarists of the day such as Antonio de la Ciudad Real and Fray San Pedro Sebastian talk about visits to convents and the dishes featuring native fruits and nuts, European spices, chicken or turkey served by the nuns.

Mole is said to have originated in the Santa Rosa Convent in Puebla. In the 17th century, a nun called Sister Andrea de la Asunción ground and blended chocolate, chili, sesame seeds, cinnamon, almonds, peanuts, garlic and pepper among other ingredients, to create a sauce that she served with turkey to honor the visit of the Viceroy. There are now countless variations on the original recipe from Puebla and the neighboring state of Oaxaca has seven different types of mole, all are delicious.

Cochinita Pibil, taste of the Yucatan

In the Yucatan, cochinita pibil is served on special occasions. Pieces of pork, a pork leg or even a suckling pig (lechón) are marinated in an achiote (annatto) and Seville orange juice spice mix or recado. The meat is then wrapped in banana leaves and traditionally cooked in a pit or pib for hours. Nowadays an oven is used to slow roast the meat until it literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.
Cochinita pibil is served with freshly made tortillas, pickled red onion and xnipek habanero sauce.

Fish a la Veracruzana

Try this flavorful fish casserole from the fishing communities of the Veracruz coast. Fish is stewed in a rich tomato sauce with green olives, capers, herbs and bell peppers and served with rice.

Any kind of taco, the more the merrier!

What’s your favorite taco filling? Beef or seafood, stewed chicken, al pastor pork, cochinita pibil, carnitas, crispy fried tacos filled with shredded chicken, chorizo and potato or even rajas, poblano chili strips, a plate of any kind of tacos is a great way to celebrate Independence Night. Be sure to order guacamole and try different chili salsas and don’t miss Taco Tuesday at Hacienda Sisal Mexican Restaurant in Cancun.