The Exotic Mexican cuisine that we are so fond of today evolved over time. In the sixteenth century when Europeans came to Mexico they brought along with them range of spices and herbs, vegetables and fruits that did not grow in Mexico. Over the years these became part of Mexican cuisine.
Most of the dishes today, have basic ingredients as beans, rice, corn and chilli pepper. Many recipes include Mexican spices like garlic, garlic powder, chilli powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and epazote.
Popular Herbs and Spices used in Mexican Food
Sesame – Sesame is a very important ingredient used to make moles, and in garnish for mole Poblano. It is used on cemitas or sandwich rolls and in many baked items.
Anise – The seeds of the plant are used in cakes, candies, stews and in liqueur taken after dinner.
Mexican Safflower – Mexican Safflower also known as Mexican Saffron is known more for the colour than for its flavour. It is used in dishes made from chicken and seafood.
Coriander (Cilantro) – Coriander or Chinese parsley has a tangy, pungent aroma. The leaves of cilantro are used in salsa, rice, stews, soups, moles etc. The seeds are ground and used to flavour stews.
Cumin (Cominos) – The seeds of the plant are used whole or in powder form in stews, meat and soups. It has a strong flavour and is a very popular spice in Mexico. cumin powder is used in dishes like enchiladas, chalupas and in rice dishes as well.
Spearmint (Hierba Buena) – With a strong flavour, this herb is used in soups, sauces, meat stews and gives a lovely fragrance to the soup – Caldo de pollo.
Bay leaf (Laurel) – Mexican bay leaf is thinner than the European bay leaf. It is used in stews, soups and to marinade food.
Peppermint (Menta) – It is different from spearmint but it is used just like spearmint in meat stews, soups and sauces.
Oregano – Oregano is found in Mexico on a regular basis and it is frequently used in dry form. It is used in pozole (traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico), in dishes with tomato as base, and in huachinango a la veracruzana (a classic fish dish).
Pepicha – The aroma of the herb is a mix of citrus, pine and mint. It is used in many dishes including dishes made from eggs, cheese and chillies.
Parsley – With its mild flavour, parsley is added to the dishes like soups, stews and green moles after cooking the dish.
Rosemary (Romero) – It is more frequently used as a tea than as a seasoning.
Thyme (Tomillo) – It has a strong aroma and is used as a seasoning in conventional Mexican cuisine. It is used in a range of different dishes like sauces, pickles and in marinades also.
Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne pepper has a gentle smell but a very hot taste so while using it in cooking it should be used in moderation. It is extensively used in Mexican cooking. It is used in Tabasco sauce.
Chilli Powder – It is the main ingredient in a lot of Mexican dishes and is a mixture of dried chillies powdered, cumin powdered and oregano.
Garlic – It is used as a main ingredient in many dishes not only for its medicinal value but also for its taste and flavour.
Cinnamon – It is used in a number of sweet as well as salty dishes. It is a very popular spice in Mexico.
Try some of these spices to season your dishes at home like grilled or baked food, it gives a different yummy taste.