Historic Mexican chiles en nogada reinvent themselves as burgers

Gabriela García Guzmán; traducido por Arturo Hilario
Photo Credit: Fonda de Santa Clara Facebook


Puebla (Mexico) – The historic dish of chiles en nogada, associated with the Independence of Mexico, has been reinvented in the state of Puebla in the form of a hamburger and Puebla’s cemita sandwich, a Baroque combination with a foreign and a traditional dish.

Teresa Moreno, cook at the Fonda de Santa Clara restaurant, tells EFE that they innovated to delight the most demanding palates, who enoy unprecedented flavors despite the fact that chile en nogada has been a tradition in Puebla for almost 200 years.

“The idea of ​​the cemita and hamburger came from Rubén Araujo Jr. to give a new change to the Fonda, since with this pandemic we have to give more to attract more people, more tourism, so they are enticed by new and innovative things,” she explains.

Preparing for the hamburger and the cemita, a traditional Puebla sandwich, takes time and dedication, says Moreno, because it has the same ingredients as the chiles en nogada, such as fruits, meat, nuts, pomegranates, almonds, raisins, parsley, and onions.

You need the hamburger bun, made with secret chef ingredients, that is cut in half to spread apple and peach jam.

From there beef and pork are added, which are then bathed with the nogada, the walnut sauce that distinguishes the dish and gives it its name.

At the end, they put strips of poblano pepper covered with egg, and then pour a little more nogada and decorate it with pomegranate and parsley.

For the cemita it is the same procedure, but it has milanesa, beef leg, ham, cheese and avocado, which means a total remix of both traditional dishes.

Food with History

Due to its ingredients, the season for the chiles in nogada dish is from July to September, according to the Federal Secretary of Tourism, making it a typical dish for Mexico’s national holidays, which on September 16 celebrates its Independence Day.

The origin of the recipe dates to 1821 and the most popular version indicates that the nuns from the convent of Santa Mónica, in Puebla, created the dish for the birthday of General Agustín de Iturbide, on August 28.

The Augustinian nuns created the dish with the three colors of the Trigarante Army flag, led by Iturbide, with the ingredients of the season to also celebrate the signing of the Treaties of Córdoba in the state of Veracruz on August 24, 1821.

For this reason, the chili represents the color green, the pomegranate red and the white-hued walnut sauce invented by the nuns, the famous nogada.

The cook at the Fonda de Santa Clara assures that her reinvention does not contradict this tradition.

“The idea is not to take away the merit of the chile en nogada, that is always going to be the chile en nogada, since many of us know it, we know its flavors and the ingredients they carry,” says Moreno.

Innovate in the Crisis

This restaurant has taken on the challenge of creating this dish to overcome the crisis caused by the pandemic, which in Mexico has left almost 339,00 cases and nearly 39,000 deaths from COVID-19.

The main challenge, Moreno points out, is that the hamburgers and cemitas have the same flavor as the chiles en nogada, something that diners have fortunately approved of.

“It is a delicacy of flavor that cannot be missed, at first it is a little strange but without a doubt they are an explosion of flavors”, she asserts.