The Spanish invasion of Mexico saw the birth of one of the richest culinary revolutions of the world. Using chocolate, peanuts, beans, vanilla, squash, avocados, corn and tomatoes along with pork, beef, citrus fruits, garlic and cheese, Mexican cuisine was born. It was influenced by recipes and ingredients from South America, Caribbean, France and Spain. The Tex Mex version that is popularly available these days is a blend of Northern Mexican food and Southern Texas food of the Native cowboys. Look up the Mexican food recipe for chunky salsa.
Traditional Mexican food varies from different regions in Mexico. Since Mexico also spans several climatic zones, the types of foodstuff available and the regional cuisine display much variety. While some dishes are laden with spices and hot chile peppers, some are comparatively bland. The Mexican diet makes best use of beans, maize, corn and even tomatoes and avocados. Meat such as venison, quail, turkeys and fish also find place on many Mexican dishes. Traditional Mexican food revolves around simple yet delicious ingredients - chiles, beans, tortillas, beef, pork and sour cream. Chopped lettuce and tomato are frequently used as garnish.
Mexican cooking utensils
Using traditional Mexican utensils help in lending a distinctive taste and flavor to the food. Authentic Mexican cooks do not use a cutting board or food processor for chopping chiles, onions and tomatoes. Instead a molcajete and tejolote - an abrasive rock mortar and pestle are used so as to extract the intense flavor of the herbs and ingredients. A tortilla press is used to flatten the dough into thin tortillas. A hand grinder called Molino de maiz is the traditional grinder for dried corn. Cast iron griddles are used for preparing tortillas as well as charring ingredients for sauces. It also doubles up as a hot plate to serve fajitas.
Taco: Large and crisp tortilla shell. It usually contains minced beef, shredded lettuce, grated cheese and can be topped with some salsa and sour cream.
Fajitas: Similar to burritos and enchiladas. It is the fillings that make the fajita special. Usually beef strips are marinated in a spicy sauce and then barbecued.
Guacamole: Avocado based dip. This Mexican entre is rich with onions, lemons and chopped garlic.
Frijoles: A bean dish that can be served as a main course or a garnish. Beans of different kinds are boiled and fried.
Tequila: The Mexican form of Margarita. Served with lime juice in salt-rimmed glasses, this drink is derived from the maguey plant. This fermented juice can range from the white and harsh tequila to the mellow darker ones
Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley adds a unique tangy flavor to Mexican dishes. It is used in the fresh leaf form or in the seed form. It cannot be dried and stored.
Cumin is a highly aromatic seed that finds it way into most Mexican stews and soups. It aids digestion and relieves colic.
Chaya is found on the Yucatan peninsula and has excellent medicinal properties to detoxify blood. It is an important ingredient of agua fresca and crepas de chaya.
Verbena is used often in digestive tea. It works as a cure for headaches, stomach ache and loss of appetite.
Hoja de aguacate or avocado leaf is a popular seasoning in soups and chicken dishes. With its licorice- like aroma, this herb is used in tea to expel intestinal parasites.
Hierba santa or hoja santa serves as fragrant wrappers for grilled and steamed fish dishes. This Mexican herb also lends flavor to chicken and shrimp dishes
Mexican food recipe
Salsa is the spirit of Mexican cuisine. Salsa is Spanish for sauce. It is usually a mixture of chopped vegetables, fruits and seasonings that are either cooked or uncooked. This Mexican gourmet dish is not pureed, as it is generally an accompaniment to a dish. The Mexican salsa is usually made of onions, garlic, chiles and tomatoes and is chunky in texture.
It is an excellent garnish and dip. It can range from mild to spicy and tangent to even pungent. Have a look at this low-fat Mexican recipe for Salsa that is also low in fat and cholesterol. Salsa is a best selling condiment for Mexican cooking. Chicken Enchiladas, Carne Asada, zesty grilled prawns or freshly tossed salads - Mexican food offers it all!
Mexican food recipe for Chunky Salsa
1 jalapeno chile, deseeded and chopped fine
1 medium sized red onion chopped
1/8 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon chilly powder
1/2 teaspoon Oregon, crushed by hand
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 -4 chopped green chiles
Toss all the ingredients together and let it blend overnight. The Salsa is ready the next day to be served with crisp tortilla chips or with other dishes. This Salsa can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It keeps fresh for about two weeks.