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Some of the Most Flavorsome Mexican Spices

Aug 10, 2008
Mexican spices are used in many dishes found in Mexico. Some are spices you can find anywhere, such as Garlic. Others give unique flavors. Epazote is a spice that is not as common. It is also known as "Mexican tea." It is used to flavor beans and other foods, but should be used sparingly because it can be poisonous in large amounts. Even though it is strong, it is said to be good for intestinal discomfort.

Another Mexican spice frequently found in Mexican dishes is chili powder, sometimes spelt chile powder. This spice is actually a blend of various chilies and other spices. It is used to flavor vegetables, salsas, meats, poultry and pretty much anything else. Chile powder is also a key ingredient in many sweet Mexican dishes and treats. Chipotle chili powder is made from dried, smoked jalapeo peppers. It has a unique taste and suits plenty of recipes. Chipotle is also becoming increasingly popular outside of Mexico. Ancho is another type of chili, which tastes sweet and fruity. Depending on the chili powder recipe, you might want to use green chile powder or pasilla chile powder, since each will give a slightly different flavor to the recipe they are added to so experiment.

Oregano, coriander, and cumin are also very popular in Mexico. Tomato-based dishes suit the earthy flavor of oregano perfectly. Coriander is used whole or dried and adds a spicy flavor. Cumin, which is a dry seed from the cuminum cyminum herb, has been used in Mexico for hundreds of years. It takes up to four months to grow and is a key ingredient in chili powder and curry powder. It can also be boiled to make a tea, which has the name "cumin cider."

Some Mexican spices are used alone and others are made into blends. One popular blend is called recado rojo. It was used many years ago by the Mayans and is still extremely well liked. The annatto seeds it contains give it a red hue, which is transferred to the recipes you use it in your cooking. Cinnamon, cumin, garlic, clove, and oregano are some of the spices in recado rojo. Mexican foods from the Yucatan area are associated with this spice blend. It is also quite simple to make your own.

The shrub that annatto seeds come from is called achiote. Grown in Southeast Asia and introduced to the Spanish in the 1800s, the achiote fruit itself is not edible. The American Indians used annatto for body paint many years ago. Some parts of the achiote plant can be added to medical remedies to treat burns and headaches.

If you want to try some of these individual spices or Mexican spice mixes at home, you can get them from major grocery stores. You might want to gather a few of the spices mentioned above and have a go at making your own blend. Add some paprika and salt, and then use to flavor broiled, grilled, or baked foods. This mixture is great with pork or chicken. You cannot really go wrong when making a spice blend, because you can keep adding spices until the result is pleasing. Another great way to use Mexican spices is on the grill so why not invite some friends over, find some upbeat Mexican music, and cook some fantastic Mexican recipes!
About the Author
Discover the truth about Mexican food history and find out more about the wonderful spices that make Mexican recipes a favorite with the whole family.
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