Mexico is the center of origin, domestication and diversification of the Capsicum annuum chile variety; these plants are woody-stalked and shrub-like. Their flowers are usually white, sometimes greenish. Fruits vary in size, color and flavor, depending on soil type, climate, etc.
The chilaca chile belongs to this species, and is also known as a cuernillo chile or chile para deshebrar (“chile for shredding”) when fresh.
It has a semi-cylindrical shape that is long, thin, and often distorted, distortion that is lost during the drying process. When fresh it is dark green, and turns dark brown or brown when ripe, and measures from 14 to over 20 centimeters long. It features a spicy to very spicy flavor.
Mexicans eat chilacas roasted as a way of removing the skin and seeds; cut it into strips to fill tacos and tamales; and also use them in stews; ground, they go into salsas, are a base for chile-atoles, broths or stews; they can also be stuffed.
Most production is located in the Northern Highlands Region (Chihuahua), even though this is not the region where chilacas are most consumed.
There in Chihuahua, chilaca chiles undergo a peculiar conservation method: first they are roasted to remove the skin, then sun-dried. Subsequently they are known as chiles pasados and play an important role in the state’s traditional cuisine.
Tlatonile de la milpa
When a chilaca is dried it becomes known as a pasilla chile, perhaps because its skin is so wrinkled that it resembles a grape or a prune. This chile is black and therefore is also known as a negro or prieto chile.
Pasilla chiles are produced and used in Mexico’s Central Highlands, especially as the base for emblematic regional sauces, soups, stews, marinades and moles. They can also be stuffed.


Milpa tlatonile
Chilayo colimense
Mole de chiapas with turkey