There are many Mexican restaurants in the North America. Because of it’s unique flavors, Mexican cuisine has been also adopted for home cooking in the US. But Mexican recipes are a little foreign to us, and many people are not even sure what are the commonly used ingredients in Mexican recipes. To help, I put together the basic cooking ingredients for Mexican recipes. Having these ingredients on hand will help you create Mexican dishes on the fly.
Long ago, the basic Mexican cooking rested mostly on corn and beans. Meats were scarce and rarely used. When the Spanish came to Mexico, they introduced new flavors and heavy spices, including chili. In the seaside communities, Mexicans took advantage of bountiful seafood to replace the scarce meet. The Spanish also introduced chicken, garlic and onion, cheese and other ingredients. The Spanish influence on Mexican cooking contributed to the development of the unique and delicious Mexican recipes and cuisine, as we know it today.
What Are The Basic Ingredients Used In Mexican Recipes
Beans – Beans, particularly black beans and pinto beans, are widely used in Mexican cooking. They are used for main dishes, salads and soups. The authentic Mexican recipes always used the dry beans. Today there are canned variety of these beans available to us and if you are strapped for time, you can use canned beans as well.
Chili – Chilies are commonly used in Mexican food preparation. There is a certain variety of chilies that are used. Most Mexicans like their foods hot (as in spicy) and satisfy this taste, spicy jalapeno, serrano and ancho chilies are used. Chilies are used fresh, dried, smoked or powdered. If you can get accustomed to the spiciness of chilies and include them in your cooking at all times, you will do yourself a great favor as they impart many health benefits, including weight loss.
Corn – Our Tortilla chips that you can buy in a supermarket are often made from corn, but for Mexicans, corn has been a primary staple and a source of nutrition. As they did not grow wheat, corn was their source ingredient for flour. They use corn to make a dough called masa (a Spanish word for dough) to make tortillas and many other delicious authentic Mexican corn-based antojitos and meals.
Here is a little interesting tidbit, I could not leave unshared. Antojitos (literally “little cravings”), street food in Mexico, is prepared by street vendors and at small traditional markets in that country. Most of them include corn as an ingredient. (Source)
Tomatoes – Mexican cuisine includes a variety of salsas. Tomatoes are the main ingredients in them. They use salsa for toppings on many foods including, burritos and tacos. They also use fresh, canned or cooked tomatoes in rice soup and salad dishes.
Lard – We are not used to using lard anymore. Instead we use oils or butter. But for Mexicans, lard was, and still is, an essential ingredient when cooking. Lard adds a delicious flavor to masa used for cooking refried beans and tamale.
Mole – Pronounced as moh-lay. It is an unusual ingredient that adds flavor to Mexican dishes. It is made out of 30 different spices plus peanut butter and cocoa. Putting this in your Mexican recipe will bring out the rich flavors of the rest of the ingredients.
Cheese – There are number of cheeses that Mexican recipes utilize. Most commonly used cheeses are Quezo Fresco, Quezo Blanco and Panela. These are great additions to quesadillas and enchiladas. Mexicans also use Jack Cheese from the U.S. because it pairs well with the Mexican ingredients.
I bet you don’t have most of these Mexican ingredients in your kitchen. You can buy many of these items in a regular supermarket, but you will find all of them in any of the Latin or Hispanic grocery stores. Armed with these ingredients, you are ready to start turning Mexican recipes into delicious meals in your own home.
Make sure to frequently check the International Recipes section of the Diet Chat. It is regularly updated with scrumptious recipes from around the world. And, if you love Mexican food tell us which is your favorite. Just leave a comment below.