rajas on plate

Variations And Uses

As with all Mexican foods there are regional variations.  In Oaxaca the rajas are made with charred chile de agua chiles, lime, onion, salt and oregano then served with meats, stews and enfrigoladas. In central Mexico they use the  chile manzano, or the peron chile. (Diana Kennedy, Art of Mexican Cooking).

Rick Bayless shares several variations in his book Authentic Mexican.  One easy version uses poblanos, onions, cream, herbs and broth.  In his "favorite" recipe he combines roasted poblanos, onions, red bell peppers, garlic, broth and wine.  This is a contemporary version.

rajas cooking with onions

rajas being sautéed with onions and seasonings

In addition to being used as a side dish, rajas are even used in tamales and tacos.  This simple dish can be made ahead of time (the dish improves after it sits awhile).

Basic Chile Poblano Rajas

You can use different peppers or seasonings but this is a good basic recipe, by Rick Bayless.

  • 4 medium, fresh poblano chile peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2/3 cup crema, whipping cream, or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (thyme, Mexican oregano, marjoram)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to taste, adjust as needed if using broth with salt)

Chiles: Stem and seed the roasted chiles. You can remove the veins if you want a more mild rajas. Slice the chiles crosswise into 1/4" strips.

Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat and fry the onions until they brown, about 7 -8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile strips, cook 2 minutes.

Add the cream or broth, herbs, and bay leaves and simmer until the liquid reduces enough to just coat the vegetables. Remove the bay leaves, taste and adjust salt as needed.

Roast Chiles On A Dry Grill

poblano chiles on a stove top grill
poblanos being charred on chile pepper grill


  • Article written by: Barbara Bowman, Gourmetsleuth.com, all rights reserved. 2/15/04 - 9/26/13
  • Photos: By Gourmetsleuth.com
  • The Art of Mexican Cooking, Diana Kennedy

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.