Peanuts or “cacahuates” as they are called in Mexico are a common ingredient in mole recipes. Though technically a legume, nuts of many varieties are used in cooking around the world.
In Mexico, you’ll find that peanuts are often toasted in a pan before being ground for use in making mole. This brings out a richer, nutty flavor. When incorporated with intense flavors like chilis, peanuts can bring a smooth balance to a recipe. They are often used sparingly as a seasoning to bring a depth a flavor and roundness to the dish.
Also, you’ll find that there are spicy table salsas that use peanuts. One of my favorites is peanut with habanero salsa at Habanerito restaurant in Mexico City.
Peanuts are sold in most markets in Mexico. They are sold fresh, roasted, and boiled. In Chiapas, it’s common to see kids from smaller pueblos in cities like San Cristobal de las Casas selling fresh nuts in the streets. Also, don’t forget if you ever get a whiff of roasted nuts in the air, look around. There is likely a vendor nearby selling freshly roasted nuts.
Food Photography by Xhico.