Disclaimer: The post is in partnership with Hernán & may include affiliate links.

Learn how to cure a molcajete in four easy steps. Curing or seasoning a molcajete can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It is actually rather simple, but I won’t lie to you, it is time-consuming. That’s why I will walk you step-by-step through the process, and answer every question you have ever had about a Mexican molcajete.

White rice in a molcajete ready to be ground

What is an authentic Mexican molcajete?

A molcajete is a mortar and pestle made out of volcanic rock (basalt) that stands on three legs. It has been used in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times to grind spices and grains. The word molcajete comes from the word “mollicaxtli” which means stone box for making salsa or mole. It is probably the most used and loved tool in every Mexican kitchen and it is often passed down from generation to generation. (Fun Fact: the hand grinding tool or pestle is called tejolote)

Pulverized rice in a molcajete

Where to buy a molcajete?

Did you know that some stores sell molcajetes that are made with a mixture of cement and rock?? These molcajetes are usually cheap, very smooth in appearance, and light in weight. Before you buy a molcajete make sure it is from a reputable source. If your molcajete is made with cement it will never stop releasing grit into your food! I bought my molcajete from Hernan Mexico and I highly recommend them. (Get a 20% off coupon until August 31st by using the code: DoraMol2019 )

A close-up of the pulverized rice where you can see the grit.

How to Cure a Molcajete?

A molcajete must be seasoned or cured before using it for the first time. To season a molcajete first:

  1. Wash really well with water and a stiff brush.
  2. Pour a handful of uncooked rice and grind to a powder using your pestle (tejolote). Make sure to use the whole circumference of the molcajete bowl, not just the center. You can add a little bit of water to the rice to make the grinding easier. Your first grind will result in a grayish rice paste. Discard the ground rice, and rinse molcajete.
  3. Repeat the process as many times as needed until the ground rice is white in color and has no grit in it. This will take a while but will allow you to really get to know your molcajete and make it truly yours.
  4. The final test is to grind 3-4 cloves of garlic and kosher salt evenly around the inside of the molcajete. Check for grit. Rinse the molcajete and tejolote and allow to air dry. Your molcajete is now ready to use!!

Beginners Tip: Place a kitchen towel under your molcajete before grinding to avoid damage to your countertops.

6 cloves of garlic in a molcajete

How to Clean a Molcajete

Now that your molcajete is seasoned, after every use simply wash with water and a stiff brush and allow to air dry. NEVER use soap, soap can get into the crevices of your molcajete and change the flavor of your food.

Hernan molcajete surrounded by tomato, onion, and peppers

The Best Molcajete Salsa

They say the taste of salsa made in a molcajete cannot compare to one made in a blender. Grinding in a molcajete allows the spices and herbs to release their natural oils and aromas, resulting in a deeper and more profound flavor. For me, using a molcajete makes me feel connected to the women, my ancestors, who hundreds of years ago ground their salsas in a molcajete. I don’t know, it almost feels like a special ritual, one that is worth repeating over and over again.

Salsa molcajeteada in a large molcajete surrounded by tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic







I am in love with this watercress and radish salsa. I guess it’s more of a salad with the addition of the radish and watercress, but it pairs so perfectly with the slices if avocado and home-made tortillas. I made a batch if this and ate it all by myself!

This vegan recipe for watercress and radish salsa is spicy, crunchy, fresh and pairs perfectly with avocado slices and home-made tortillas.

I’ve adapted this recipe for watercress and radish salsa from a book called Memorias en Mole de Olla, Cocina y Revolucion en Tlaxcala. The author, Helena Hernandez de Valle Arizpe, has researched and gathered over 117 recipes of the cuisine of Tlaxcala during the time of the Mexican revolution (1910-1920). Her only intent is to promote her findings in the hope of preserving Mexico’s cuisine. Unfortunately, for you English speakers the book is in Spanish.

This vegan recipe for watercress and radish salsa is spicy, crunchy, fresh and pairs perfectly with avocado slices and home-made tortillas.

That’s where I come in. I have translated this goodness and adapted it slightly. I love recipes like these, because they reflect exactly what I want this blog to be. I don’t just want to veganize traditional Mexican dishes. I want to share with you recipes that although they may be accidentally vegan (meaning they don’t come from a vegan mindset, they just happen to have no animal products), they are part of the fabric of traditional Mexican cuisine. With the advent of Tex-Mex or the adaptation of Mexican food across borders we tend to forget that the basis of the whole cuisine is corn, beans, and chile.

This vegan recipe for watercress and radish salsa is spicy, crunchy, fresh and pairs perfectly with avocado slices and home-made tortillas.

Hopefully I will be able to share with you more recipes from this great book. In other news, I’m really excited about being featured in PETALatino this month. Head on over there and check it out. Look out for some classic lenten recipes in the following weeks, and don’t forget to email subscribe to receive a notification every time a new post is published and our monthly newsletter.

The Recipe: Watercress and Radish Salsa

Is it a salsa or a salad? It’s both! Four serranos make a very spicy salsa, so if you want it mild add a little bit less. Enjoy!

Watercress radish salsa. Roasted tomatoes and serranos, watercress, and sliced radishes.

Watercress and Radish Salsa

5 from 2 votes
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Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Dora Stone


  • 3 Roma tomatoes, large
  • 4 Serrano peppers
  • 1 bunch Watercress, roughly chopped
  • 6 Red radishes, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 Mexican spring onions, white part only, chopped, cebollitas


  • Heat a griddle or cast iron pan to high heat. Place tomatoes and serrano peppers on griddle until they become soft and slightly blackened, about 5 min.
  • Flip peppers, tomatoes, and continue to char for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove ingredients from griddle and set aside.
  • Start grinding the peppers in the molcajete one at a time. Once the desired consistency is reached, add the tomatoes one by one and keep grinding. Set aside
  • If you do not have a molcajete you can use a blender or food processor. Simply place the charred tomatoes and peppers in the machine and pulse until the desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
  • Add radish, watercress, and spring onion to the tomato and serrano salsa. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with avocado slices and warm tortillas.


Yields about 2 cups. Mexican spring onions are very different from scallions. They have a bulbous ending and a very long green stem. See ingredient picture above. Feel free to add more serranos if you want this to be spicier.





I hereby declare February national salsa month! Wait, I just googled it and national salsa month is a real thing, and it’s in May. Oh well, here at Dora’s Table February is salsa month. This whole month I will be posting salsa recipes for you to enjoy. Let’s start with this roasted tomatillo salsa.

Mexican mortel and pestel

Ingredients for roasted tomatillo salsa.

The reason I decided to make this month salsa month is, because I bought a molcajete!! I am so excited about this. I’ve been meaning to purchase one for years, but every time I visit Mexico I decide not to. Those things are heavy and can break so I’ve never wanted to risk it. I finally just went to Williams-Sonoma and bought one. Why Williams-Sonoma? Well that’s another story that requires a blog post all to itself.

Tomatillos roasting for salsa.

Tomatillos roasting

I know it’s silly but every time I use it, I feel somehow connected to my past and heritage. I can’t stop myself at marveling at the fact that the indigenous cultures of Mexico used this exact same tool in their cooking thousands of years ago. I honestly didn’t expect a huge difference in flavor than when I use my blender, but I was pleasantly surprised. The result is a chunky, rustic salsa with bright and strong flavors. The recipes I will be posting will be made using the molcajete, but you can easily prepare them in your blender or food processor.

Salsa in molcajete.

Roasted tomatillo salsa.

In other news, it’s been sick week here at the Stone house. Everybody has been taking turns getting sick, and we’re all exhausted. Hopefully baby Karina will be sleeping normally soon, and everything will be back to normal. Otherwise things are great. We finally went to Legoland with some friends, and we had a blast. My two little ones are growing so fast, and they are keeping me infinitely distracted with their cuteness.




I’ve been dedicating some extra time to grow my pinterest page, so stop by and check it out:

I’ve also started a Vegan Mexican pinterest board. If you would like to join, shoot me an email and let me know:

One last thing. I will begin sending out a monthly newsletter with cooking tips, my favorite recipes, and other news. To receive this newsletter simply subscribe to the blog via email by clicking on the subscribe button on the right side of the home page. Enjoy!

The Recipe: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

If you do not have a molcajete to make this roasted tomatillo salsa you can use a blender or food processor. Also, if you do not have a comal or cast-iron pan you can use the broiler in your oven. Just put the tomatillo, onion, chile, and garlic on a tray and place under broiler until they are blackened.

Roasted tomatillo salsa. Chunky, rustic, spicy, and tangy.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 1/2 cups
Author: Dora Stone


  • 1 lb. (8 medium) Tomatillos, husks removed, washed
  • ¼ Onion, white
  • 3 Garlic, cloves
  • 2-4 Serrano Peppers
  • 1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped


  • Heat a comal, cast-iron, or heavy bottomed pan to medium-high heat. Place the tomatillos, garlic, onion, and Serrano peppers directly on the hot pan. They will become soft and slightly blackened, about 7 – 10 min.
  • Flip tomatillos, peppers, onion, and garlic over and continue to char for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove ingredients from griddle and set aside.
  • Start grinding ingredients in molcajete one at a time. Once the desired consistency is reached, add the next ingredient and keep grinding. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
  • If you do not have a molcajete you can use a blender or food processor. Simply place all the cooked ingredients in the machine and pulse until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Season to taste.


If you do not have a molcajete you can use a blender or food processor.