which spices are essential for Mexican cooking, one of the most popular
cuisines in the world.
of dried chilies the color of fire, baskets of exotic fruits and vegetables,
stacks of tortillas and bowls of beige rice against black beans — Mexican
cuisine is as exciting, colorful, and varied as the rich culture of its
people. Lively and full of spice (sometimes fiery), Mexican cooking
has become one of the most popular cuisines in the world.
While some good recipes will be indispensable to those just learning to
cook, in true Mexican cooking exact measurements are seldom used. More often,
little of this" and "a touch of that," guided by experimentation,
a sense of adventure, and familiarity with ingredients that are the foundation
of authentic Mexican dishes. With a good selection of Mexican spices and some
standard pantry staples — grains, fruits, vegetables, tortillas, beans — you
can whip up a Mexican dish anytime you like.
Find over 100 Mexican recipes here.
Essential Spices for Mexican Cooking
The herbs and spices used in authentic Mexican cooking are quite distinctive, but fortunately most are readily available today. Experiment with small amounts and use seasonings to enhance dishes rather than overwhelm them.
See a list of the most important Mexican
spices you'll want to keep on
hand and delve deeper into those all-important hot
For a lively combination of Mexican spices, try a convenient Frontier
blend like Mexican
Seasoning, and Taco & Mexican
Seasoning. Simply add your choice of blend directly to any dish.
Chili, tacos, and fajitas are natural choices, but think about giving
Mexican flair to that otherwise ordinary grain casserole, side of beans,
or soup or salad, too!
Vanilla has been used in Mexican cooking since the 16th century.
In Mexican kitchens, the sugar jar often contains a vanilla bean;
it adds wonderful aroma and flavor to the sugar and keeps the
Used by Mexican cooks in sauces like mole poblano and pipian, sesame seeds add a nutty taste to salads and main dishes, too. Simply toast in a dry skillet, stirring until lightly browned.
Fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes make for terrific Mexican fare,
but dried tomatoes are great to stock year-round and add rich
tomato flavor when grocery tomatoes are less than prime.
We've got all the gadgets you'll need to start your Mexican cooking
extravaganza, from mortars
and pestles to tortilla
warmers and nutmeg
As you begin to explore Mexican cooking, you'll soon discover
that this cuisine, like that of most countries, offers tremendous
regional diversity in ingredients and flavors. You may find that
you especially enjoy certain regional cuisines of Mexico.
Central: Central Mexican cuisine features a variety of herbs, spices and chilies, blending the flavors of native Indian dishes with other recipes that show strong Spanish influences.
Coastal: Fish and seafood are primary ingredients in dishes from the coastal region, which also incorporate European and tropical influences. Regional ingredients such as native herbs, tomatoes, olives and plantains are often featured.
Northern: Northern Mexican cuisine is bold and
smoky, combining a variety of grilled meats, poultry and fish with other
Southern: Foods from the Southern region of Mexico are full-flavored native Indian dishes that combine dried peppers with complementary sweeter spices, such as cinnamon and cloves.
Western: Enchiladas, tacos, fried pork, red sauces, salsas and chilies comprise the traditional cuisine of Western Mexico. Oh, and another regional favorite? Tequila!
Yucatan: The Yucatan was originally inhabited
by the Mayans, and traditional Yucatan cooking still exhibits a strong
Mayan influence. Popular ingredients include cinnamon, cilantro, cloves
and achiote (annatto seed), which is commonly used to make achiote paste,
used in moles, tamales, stews, rice dishes, meats and seafood. Foods from
the Yucatan often demonstrate exotic tropical influences and offer a wide
range of flavors and textures.