Jocón, The Green Mayan Curry

Rudy Giron: Guatemalan gastronomy &emdash; Guatemalan Food — Jocón_

Jocón is Guatemala’s most famous green stew. We could also call it green mole if we use the wide definition of the Nahual word mole, which is either a kind of curry or stew sauce. I know I have been scolded before for pairing the word curry with all the pre-Columbian Maya sauces and stews, but I think if you have never had pepían, revolcado, subanik, revolcado, et cetera. By the way, in Guatemala we use the word recados for the stews, sauces, moles, or curries.

As I have mentioned before, Guatemalan gastronomy is so rich with stews. If the stews are watery we call them caldos and if the stews are thick we call them recados. In Guatemala we have plenty of caldos and recados and sometimes is difficult to decide whether a stew is a caldo or a recado. Take Kak’Ik for instance, which is caldo that looks like a recado.

Jocón is basically a Guatemalan tomatillo-cilantro sauce; although we use the words miltomate-culantro instead.

Because pepián and kakik steal all the attention, jocón does not receive as much press as it should. Basically, pepían is the red Mayan recado.

This picture of “jocón de gallina criolla” [patio free-run hen] was taken at the diner Rincón Típico, a very popular comedor serving Guatemalan food near Tanque de la Unión, in Antigua Guatemala.

Whats4Eats has shared this recipe of jocón:

Jocón or pollo en jocón is a dish popular with the Mayan population of Guatemala. Chicken is simmered in a tasty sauce tinted a beautiful green by tomatillos and cilantro and thickened with ground sesame and pumpkin seeds and corn tortillas.

4 to 6 servings


  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces — 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Water — 4 cups
  • Salt — 2 teaspoons
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) — 1/4 cup
  • Sesame seeds — 1/4 cup
  • Corn tortillas, chopped, soaked in water, drained — 2
  • Tomatillos, hulled and chopped — 1 cup
  • Cilantro, chopped — 1 bunch
  • Scallions, chopped — 1 bunch
  • Jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, chopped — from 1 to 5


  1. Place the chicken, water and salt into a large pot over medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Remove the chicken to a bowl and strain and set aside the broth. Let chicken cool, then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Heat a dry skillet over medium flame. Add the pumpkin and sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, tortillas, tomatillos, cilantro, scallions and chile peppers to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth and process until smooth. If using a blender you may have to do this step in batches.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot. Pour over pureed sauce and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the remaining broth to give it a sauce-like consistency.
  6. Heat over medium-low flame and simmer for an additional 15-25 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Jocon Variations

  • Leave the chicken pieces whole if you prefer.
  • If you can’t find pumpkin seeds, simply use 1/2 cup of sesame seeds. And if finding sesame seeds is a problem, you can substitute a slightly smaller amount of tahini.
  • Cubed pork can be substituted for the chicken. There is no need to shred the pork, but you may need to simmer it longer for it to become tender.
  • Use any remaining broth to make rice to accompany the meal.

© 2016, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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