Native Recipes

XOCATL (Chocolate) -- Aztecs, Mayans, Central American Tribes

Hot Chocolate Mayan Style -- makes 4 cups

When Cortez and those guys arrived in Aztec country, they were unimpressed by these little dark brown beans everyone seemed to carry around, until they learned these were money -- 100 cacao beans would buy a slave. Probably Xocatl was actually developed as a food by Mayan peoples farther south, the beans were a hot trade item, before they finally got ground up and drunk as hot chocolate. You can just make cocoa your usual way (which is perhaps by adding hot water to a pre-mixed envelope), and we can't grind the beans, but here's a bit more authentic way.

		2 ounces (squares) bitter, unsugared bakers' chocolate
		1 cup hot water
		3 tablespoons honey
		dash salt
		3 cups hot milk
		4 sticks cinnamon bark

Chop the chocolate and heat it in the water until melted. Add honey, salt, and beat the hot chocolate water with a balloon wire whip as you add th warmed milk. To make it more frothy and give more food value, you can beat up an egg or two, add hot chocolate to it, then pour it into the chocolate cooking pot and continue to whip, (but this isn't authentic). Serve the hot chocolate in mugs with cinnamon-bark stick stirrers in each. Purists will tell you cinnamon is oriental, not Meso-American, which is true, but it is readily available, and the cinnamon-flavored barks (canella) which are native to Mexico and Meso-America are not readily available. The Aztecs, Mayans, and others of Meso America used those. They also sometimes put bits of peyote mushroom in it, and other spices. Sometimes it was made without honey, as a bitter drink, apparently this was how it was served in European coffee houses for about 100 years until the Dutch got wise to the fact that chocolate and sugar are the perfect taste combo, which the Native people already knew. Dutch developed the process of treating cacao bean grindings with alkalais to make cocoa powder which keeps and dissolves better and has most of the bean's fat leached out of it. Chocolate's high potassium content makes a good excuse to pig out on it. It also contains thobromines which are allegedly similar to internal brain hormones of people in love, which is supposed to explain the tradition of giving a box of chocs to a lover. In my opinion this is some biochemist's fantasy.

Mole Rojo (Red mole sauce) for turkey or chicken -- makes 5 cups

The chocolate in this sauce recipe is not sweet. You may not be able to find the right kind of dried chiles, unless you live in the southwest. Ancho chiles are brick red or darker, about 5 inches long and 2 -3 inches wide at the shoulder. It's medium hot, with underlying fuity flavor. Mulato chiles are dried Poblanos, the green form of the ancho, slightly larger, darker than anchos (no longer green when dried). Pasilla is very dark, almost black, wrinkled and tapered, only about 1 inch wide at the shoulder. Quite hot, underlying smoky flavor.

	6 whole dried pasilla chiles
	10 whole dried ancho chiles
	8 whole dried mulato chiles
	2 quarts water
	4 tomatillos (yellow ground cherries in lantern husks)
	5 Roma tomatoes
	1/2 cup rasins
	1/3 cup sesame seeds
	2 corn tortillas dried in oven and chopped up
	6 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
	2 cups duck, chicken or turkey stock
	2 tsp cinnamon
	1/8 tsp cloves (ground)
	1/2 tsp ground black pepper
	1/2 tsp ground allspice
	1 tsp salt
	5 oz squares of unsweetned baker's chocolate
	3 tablespoons chicken fat or panut cooking oil

1. Start raisins soaking in warm water (20 minutes). Prepare the chiles: remove stems and seeds. On an ungreased cast-iron frypan (or in a 250 degree oven) dry roast them 5 minute, shake a cuple times, don't blacken them. Add water to a covered pan and simmer the roasted chiles very low for 30 minutes. Strain, cool.

2. Husk tomatillos, wash tomatoes. Blacken in dry skillet or under broiler (or in gas flame on a fork) about 5 minutes. Dry-roast sesame in frypan 5 minutes until they finish popping, don't burn them. Saute almonds in the oil over medium heat until browned. Drain almonds, reserve oil.

3. Puree the prepared tomatoes, tomatillos, sesame seeds, crumbled tortillas, and alonds in a blender to a fine paste. Add chiles, soaked raisins, roast garlic (peeled), stock, spices, puree all together fine. Melt chocolate in a little hot water, add to blender paste. Check the volume. Add enough water to bring it all to 5 cups during the blending process.

4. Put all the oil in a high-sided pan and heat almost smoking hot. Refry the sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't let it get too thick, add more water or stock if necessary. Strain sauce through a seive. Serve warm, not hot, over chicken or (especially) turkey.

--Recipe adapted from Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe Cookbook of 1989 (he brings one out every year during Santa Fe Indian Days festival).

--Frybread--Tasty Symbol of all-Indian unity
--Native cookbooks --Nutrition info, cookbooks for kids
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--Fish, birds --Fruit and Berries
--Herbal Teas, Culinary Herbs --Xocoatl (Chocolate), Aztecs (and south) YUM!

Copyright 1995, 1996 Paula Giese

Last Updated: Sunday, February 18, 1996 - 5:02:52 PM