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.
chiles belong to this species. Dr. Janet Long says their name derives from the Nahuatl chilhuacle
, “old chile,” and three dried chiles, endemic to state of Oaxaca (Southern Highlands region) take this name. They vary in color; specifically, there are black, yellow and red chilhuacles
these chiles retain their original bulky shape (not unlike a small bell pepper) and do not wrinkle when dried. They are hard to find outside Oaxaca and fetch high prices since they are the basic ingredient in that state’s most traditional and representative moles.
The black chilhuacle is slightly spicy and is essential to preparing black mole and chichilo. It is sometimes substituted by guajillo chiles that are blackened to achieve a similar flavor.
Yellow chilhuacles, ranging in color from yellow to orange, are key to making mole amarillo.
Red chilhuacles, dark red and sometimes almost blackish in color, are slightly spicy. Of the three varieties, it is the most common ingredient in the Oaxaca’s traditional cooking.