Mole is a smooth, rich sauce prepared with ground chiles and other ingredients. The word mole, pronounced "moh-lay," comes from the Nahuatl “molli” which means mixture.
There are many different types of moles. In Oaxaca you may hear references to seven moles, but there are in fact more. The seven standard moles are mole negro, coloradito, rojo, amarillo, verde, chichilo and manchamantel. Mole negro (black mole) is the quintessential Oaxacan mole. One of the ingredients in black mole is chocolate, making this a sauce which is both spicy and sweet. Other ingredients that may be included in the different types of mole include garlic, onion, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, tomato, dried fruit, and more.
Mole is usually served over chicken, pork or turkey with rice on the side, but you will find it in other presentations, such as in tamales and enchiladas (alternatively called "enmoladas").
One of our favorite spots to eat mole in Oaxaca is Los Pacos restaurant. Read more about it on our list of Oaxaca's best restaurants.
If you want to take some authentic mole home with you, you can purchase mole paste at the market in Oaxaca which you mix with chicken broth and tomato puree to achieve the consistency and taste you desire.
See a recipe for mole from About.com's Guide to Mexican Food.