Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico


At a Glance

A hominy stew made with pork or chicken and chile broth.

More Info

What is pozole?

Pozole is a chile broth stew with pre-hispanic origins that’s made from hominy and, usually, pork. The broth is chile-based (except for white pozole) and it’s most often made with ancho and/or guajillo chiles.

Pozole rojo served at Dharma.

Pozole rojo (red pozole) served at Dharma.

Pozole is a popular dish around Lake Chapala, especially on the weekends. Nationally, it’s common for people to eat pozole on New Year’s Eve, other holidays and special occasions.

It’s a hearty soup, so one bowl is a complete meal.

How is pozole made?

Pozole is a time-intensive process that takes a day to make and starts with the corn, which is turned into hominy by a traditional Mesoamerican process called nixtamalización. The hard corn kernels are softened overnight in slaked lime and water, which affects the composition of the corn. This makes it more nutritional and much easier to digest.

LEARN MORE: About common types of Mexican food found at Lake Chapala by reading our food guide.

Purple corn used to make pozole before it's gone through the nixtamalización process.

Purple corn that’s used to make pozole, before the corn has gone through the nixtamalización process.

The nixtamalización process also naturally extends the shelf life of food that it’s made with, such as tortillas.

Sometimes purple corn is used, but you’ll most often find white corn used in the pozoles made in Ajijic and around the area.

WATCH: This video about how to nixtamalizar corn to make hominy.

Many regional variations of pozole come from all over the country, with red, green and white pozole usually being the most common. The color comes from whether the version uses red, green or no chile. Pozole most often comes with pork, but you can find it with chicken instead, particularly in green pozole.

Around the Ajijic area, the red pozole with pork is served almost exclusively in restaurants. Red pozole is the regional variety that’s most common in Jalisco.

Guajillo chiles are commonly used to make red pozole. They hydrate by sitting in hot water for about ten minutes before being liquified in a blender.

Guajillo chiles are commonly used to make red pozole. They hydrate by sitting in hot water for about ten minutes, then get liquified in a blender.

Chef Ayrton Ruvalcaba of Dharma adds the blended chiles to a pot of pozole. It’s at this point that the pozole becomes either red, green or white, depending on what kind of chile is added. White pozole gets no chile.

The pork can come from a few different areas of the area, including the shoulder, loin, leg or a vertebra with the surrounding meat. At restaurants, you can usually ask the waiter for your preference.

Pork leg, spine and skin are a few of the common cuts of pork used in pozole.

Pork leg, spine and skin are a few of the common parts of the pig which are used in pozole. The meat first cooks for a few hours before the corn and chile are added.

In pre-hispanic times, pozole was made with rodent meat and, sometimes, with the bodies of sacrificed people, as explained in the following video.

WATCH: “Why Pozole Is the Most Controversial Soup in Indigenous Mexican Culture”

The hominy, when perfectly cooked, is firm (not mushy), but not hard enough that it crumbles into a chalky paste in your mouth.

Usually, the pozole that’s served in the Lake Chapala area is not that spicy, in spite of the chiles used in the recipe. It’s usually served with a hot sauce on the side that you can add at your own risk.

It's served with limes, chopped onion, radish slices, cabbage, and tostadas. Dip the tostadas in the broth or pile the pozole onto them.

The pozole at Cenaduría Memo is served with the typical accompaniments: limes, chopped onion, radish slices, cabbage, and tostadas. Break up the tostadas and eat them like chips or pile the pozole onto them.

Along with your pozole, your waiter will probably bring you a plate with shredded cabbage, diced onion, sliced radishes and halved limes. Add these items to the pozole as desired.

Tostadas are also usually served with pozole and everyone has their preferred way of eating them. You can pile some pozole on top of a whole tostada. Or break up the tostada first. Or dip it into the pozole and use it as a scoop. Or snack on them in between bites of pozole.

Pozole served at the 50-year-old Cenaduría Memo.

Pozole rojo served at the 50-year-old Cenaduría Memo.

The snapping sound caused by diners breaking up tostadas is just another reason to get out to your local cenaduría, such as Cenaduría Memo near the Ajijic plaza. It’s been serving up some of the best pozole in town for the past 50 years.

Pozole as served at <Fonda Los Jarritos.

Pozole rojo as served at Fonda Los Jarritos.

LEARN MORE: About common types of Mexican food found at Lake Chapala by reading our food guide.

Last updated September 21, 2019

Dane Strom

Dane Strom The Lakeside Guide

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