Herbs and Spices

With so many dif­fer­ent types of sea­son­ing avail­able to us in Mexico, why not experiment with your recipes and try some­thing new and fla­vor­ful? Here are some sug­ges­tions to spice up your din­ner­time!

The Playa Times Riviera Maya's English Newspaper - - Tpt Foodies - By Cather­ine Pawelek

Push the salt to the back of the cab­i­net, and in­stead add a smidgen of some of the more com­mon and lesser known Mex­i­can spices and herbs to trans­form your dishes from or­di­nary to de­lec­ta­ble.

A bit of herba­ceous flair can go a long way to mak­ing that lack­lus­ter chicken dish more mem­o­rable. In­cor­po­rated into a medi­ocre meal, it el­e­vates it to a ce­les­tial high. Fig­ured into that cake or pie, and your neigh­bors won’t stop both­er­ing you till you share the se­cret in­gre­di­ent.

Mexico is a coun­try of sa­bor (fla­vor), and its herbs and spices go be­yond the fa­mil­iar dried and pow­dered chiles. Wary of the too spicy/hot herbs and spices? Try an­natto with its pep­pery nut­meg zesti­ness and hi­erba santa with a minty anise pro­file.

Sim­i­lar to the in­gre­di­ents in many of In­dia’s dishes, co­rian­der (the seed ver­sion of cilantro), cumin and clove are a sta­ple here. While mir­ror­ing Italy’s cui­sine, just a tad is oregano (Mexico’s ver­sion has a stronger fla­vor than its Mediter­ranean sis­ter).

Cin­na­mon is car­ried in most stores, but ver­ify that it is Mex­i­can cin­na­mon (canela). You will be sur­prised at how dif­fer­ent it looks, smells and tastes com­pared to what you find in Canada and the U.S.(which is usu­ally cas­sia, a botan­i­cal rel­a­tive of the cin­na­mon tree).

In Pue­bla cook­ing, pa­palo is used as a condi­ment on tra­di­tional cemita sand­wiches, a re­gional type of Mex­i­can torta. Sim­i­lar to arugula, it has a pep­pery bite, so a lit­tle goes a long way.

Romer­ito with its small suc­cu­lent leaves re­minds us a bit of rose­mary, but its taste is sim­i­lar to spinach, and it is a preva­lent hol­i­day sta­ple eaten ei­ther raw or cooked.

With its jagged leaves, epa­zote has a pun­gent essence that is of­ten likened to tar­ragon, anise and fen­nel, all in the licorice fam­ily. It is not only used to fla­vor teas but also cooked with black beans, sopes, and que­sadil­las. Due to its carmi­na­tive prop­er­ties is be­lieved to re­duce flat­u­lence.

With all these great choices, why not do the un­ex­pected by adding sweet to sa­vory and vice versa. Add a pinch of cin­na­mon or clove to a stew, a hint of romerita in a crème brulee or flan. The next time you eat roasted corn on the cob in­stead of top­ping it with the tra­di­tional lime cayenne may­on­naise, add a touch of an­natto or cumin to gar­lic and may­on­naise for a unique, yet still Mex­i­can in­flu­enced aioli.

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