The Molcajete is an original, essential, practical kitchen utensil that was first used 3500 years ago during the pre-Hispanic era to make salsas, and very little has changed since then. The Black Molcajete is a volcanic stone carved mortar in a concave shape, like a bowl with three legs, in which chiles, spices and herbs are grinded to make salsas as well as guacamole. The word Molcajete derives from the Nahuatl Molli (Sauce) and Caxitl ((Cajete) Bowl) and it can be either of porous stone (best) or glazed earthenware. The pear shaped, porous stone that comes with the Molcajete, the pestle that is used to grind the food is called texolotl or Tejolote from the Nahuatl Tetl (Stone) y xocotl (grind or pulverize); also known as temolote o telmalchin.
The Molcajete or mortar is still used in food processing today in the states of central and southern Mexico. Spices can be crushed in molcajete like no other and most of the time molcajetes are used in making a salsa due to the fact that a special texture and flavor are obtained when made in them. Salsas or Guacamole can be served or presented on the table after being elaborated in the same mortar, giving your table a rustic look. Usually recipes are not stewed or cooked in the molcajete, it does stay hot for a long time, so don't be surprised if you find your food bubbling hot a half hour after serving. Molcajetes make excellent decorations in your kitchen giving it an authentic Mexican look and they also make an excellent present for those salsa lovers in your list.
How to cure a Molcajete:
To cure a Molcajete all you need is to do is grind garlic with salt and water until it no longer gives off sand or dirt. Other way to get your black molcajete broken in, because small grains of stone can be loosed from the surface when first used, is to grind rice in the molcajete, a handful at a time. When the crushed rice has no visible black grains of stone in it, the molcajete is ready to use. Don't worry if some rice flour remains ground in to the surface of the molcajete, it will cause no problem.Each piece is hand crafted by an artisan. Your molcajete may have minor variations to the one shown on the picture.