Scrambled eggs are a good foundation for a multitude of flavourful ingredients. This Mexican recipe, with its tortilla strips, tomatoes and pepper, can be easily varied.
Crisp, colourful and delicious, this coleslaw-like relish goes well with fish tacos, grilled fish fillets, chicken or pork.
With its fresh lime, chilli and coriander flavours, this side dish is a wonderful complement to fish tacos, grilled fish and shellfish, chicken or pork.
This recipe is the ancestor of chilli con carne. The beef is slow-simmered in a red chilli broth. Serve it with warm flour tortillas to soak it all up.
Originating in Peru centuries ago, ceviche travelled northwards to Mexico, where it has become part of the coastal diet. Small pieces of fish and shellfish are “cooked” with tangy lime juice to make a refreshing starter during warm months. If you like, serve ceviche in cocktail glasses or little bowls.
Brought from Spain to Mexico, this refreshing cold vegetable soup is perfect in warm weather. Top it with a dollop of Mexican crème fraîche, known as crèma, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.
Roast the corn and chilli in the oven first, then simmer them together in this tasty soup.
Fresh prawns and tropical fruit from Baja on the Pacific or the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean make this seaside salad a hit in hot weather.
Rich and buttery avocados get a complementary lift from fresh lime juice and chillies in this easy-to-assemble salad. To keep the avocados from discolouring, make the salad right before you want to serve it.
Mellow, pale jicama is a round root vegetable sometimes referred to as the Mexican potato. Unlike the potato, however, jicama is eaten raw and really comes into its own when paired with fresh herbs, chillies, tropical fruits and citrus. It’s a staple in Mexican salads and is very crunchy when chilled.
Known as rajas or rags, these strips make a delicious accompaniment to beef dishes of all kinds, as well as a filling for sandwiches, burritos, tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas.
Barbecued sweetcorn goes perfectly with a barbecued lean steak or chicken breast. It makes a tasty light meal in itself too.
Also called arroz a la Mexicana or Spanish rice, this dish rounds out any casual meal.
The Spanish conquistadors brought their love of flan to Mexico. Today, the most common flans are caramel custard and orange flan, but not all flans are sweet. These individual fresh sweetcorn flans make an easy yet elegant side dish. Pair them with the salsa of your choice as a sauce.
The “three sisters” – corn, beans and squash – have been grown by indigenous Mexican peoples for thousands of years. The men slash and burn a plot and the women plant the seeds and tend the garden. The beans use the corn stalks for support. The squash helps repel weeds around both, so the “sisters” work harmoniously together, as in this recipe.
Beef-tasting portabello mushrooms, in place of traditional beef or chicken, make delicious fajitas, too. Serve with flour tortillas, guacamole, and fresh salsa.
Veracruz is known for its sugarcane, citrus and tropical fruits, avocados, coffee and vanilla. Foods cooked in the Veracruz style usually include fresh citrus, and this lamb is a delicious example. Achiote is a packaged seasoning and food dye made from annatto seeds; it is available in the Hispanic section of the supermarket.
Pozole, a stewlike dish made with hominy and pork, is special-occasion fare in Mexico. It’s especially loved in Guerrero State on the southern Pacific Coast, where restaurants called pozolerias offer their signature versions. Pozole is considered a good cure for hangovers and is often eaten in the early hours after a night on the town.
The longer and slower you braise these ribs, the more tender and flavourful they become. Serve with warm flour tortillas and guacamole or green mole.
Known as caldillo (little soup), this brothy stew makes great cold weather fare.
Salpicon, which translates as “hodge-podge”, is a mixture of cold cooked meats and vegetables with a tangy dressing. It’s delicious as a first course and ideal as buffet food.
Either skirt or flank steak makes incredible fajitas. The trick is to marinate the steak first, cook it only until medium-rare then slice thinly on the diagonal. Serve your fajitas with store-bought or homemade flour tortillas, guacamole and pico de gallo.
Packed full of fresh vegetables and chicken, these wraps are going to leave you satisfied. Look for low-carb tortillas; there are several varieties to choose from. These make a great way to painlessly drop the calorie count.
Barbacoa – foods over an indirect fire outdoors – are popular in Mexico. Cabrito (goat) is the choice in the north, lamb in central Mexico and pork in the Yucatán, but everyone loves chicken. Mesquite chips provide a regional “kiss of smoke” flavour.
In Mexico, ‘zarzuela’ means a three-act operetta that alternates between singing and speaking parts. It has given its name to this delicious, three-step dish that features fish and shellfish from both the Gulf and Pacific Coasts of Mexico.
These grilled chicken skewers are delicious street food that you might find at a mercado or market, but they’re just as delicious from your own barbecue.
Although the authentic Mayan recipe involved a wild pig known as a peccary, you can approximate the flavour with domestic pork shoulder. Wrapping the meat in a banana leaf keeps the juices in and adds a slightly herbaceous flavour. In place of banana leaves, you can use a paper bag – just put the meat in the bag and fold the open end closed.
Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for the “5th of May”, is a Mexican national holiday celebrating the victory over the French at Puebla de Los Angeles in 1862. Foods in the colours of the Mexican flag – red, green and white – are popular.
Leaf-wrapping foods is an ancient rainforest cooking method that was popular with both Mayan and Incan cultures. The leaves allow the fish to stay moist, delicious and gently flavoured. You can find banana leaves, fresh and frozen in some large supermarkets and specialist shops. Serve these fillets with slow-simmered black beans and Mexican confetti rice.
Hot and spicy, this devilled prawns dish makes great party food, served over steamed white rice.
With a pitcher of margaritas or a frosty Mexican beer, enjoy the fresh flavour of these grilled fish tacos and all the authentic Baja trimmings: red cabbage slaw, fresh salsa and avocado cream. Use whatever mild, white-fleshed fish is freshest.
Margaritas are delicious for drinking, but they’re also great as a marinade and glaze for fish, shellfish and chicken on the grill.
The Spanish conquistadors brought their love of rice dishes to Mexico in the 1500s. This comfort food classic, known as arroz con leche, is wonderful at any meal.
This fresh-tasting, easy-to-make frozen treat is just what you want on a hot day or after a spicy meal.
The walled entrance to the outdoor market in Tepoztlán, near Mexico City, is covered in colourful mosaics with scenes from the ancient Aztecs to Spanish and French colonial days. But what’s unique about these mosaics is that they’re made with local seeds and beans. On market day, shoppers eat their meals at the mercado, including a fruit salad like this one. Use whatever fruit is in season.
Served in tall frosty glasses, sangrita – with its accompanying shot of tequila – is a bracing cure for a hangover or a way to wake up a sleepy afternoon. It’s like a deconstructed Bloody Mary, only more citrus-flavoured, and with a spring onion as a swizzle stick.
While the original Cuban mojito is based on rum, the Mexican mojito uses tequila and Key limes for more flavour.
Street vendors in Mexican towns often serve a refreshing drink called agua fresca, based on fruit juices and purées as well as the tart hibiscus or Jamaica flower, tropical tamarind and even fresh cucumber. In a rainbow of colours, these drinks are sometimes served from barrel-shaped glass jars called vitroleros.
Dusted with icing sugar, these festive cookies are tender, buttery and delicious. Grind the almonds in a food processor or a nut grinder before using.
A warm, spicy, and milky drink usually served with bunuelos, champurrado is a favourite during the holiday season. It’s thickened with the same masa corn flour used to make corn tortillas.
Although often seen on Mexican menus as “refried beans”, these pinto beans are actually not fried but cooked in good-quality lard for an authentic flavour and texture. They’re also popular as a side dish with any meal.
Many large supermarkets now carry frozen tropical fruit pulp, which makes it easy to get the flavour of Mexico in a frozen treat. Make a simple syrup of water and sugar, then blend in the frozen pulp and flavourings and freeze in an ice cream maker. Passion fruit, known as parcha in Mexico, are small, seedy fruits with a sweet-tart flavour.
This spicy cornbread is really colourful and extremely good with a chilli dish. Use as much mild or hot chilli as you like.
This lasagne is made with tortillas instead of pasta, and the cheese is added near the end. If you prefer it less spicy, leave out the fresh chilli. If your tortillas are too big, cut them to fit.
Crispy, crunchy tacos are the perfect accompaniment for this spicy Tex-Mex-inspired salad.
This Mexican-style salsa adds a zesty and intriguing note to the simply grilled turkey.
Achiote paste is a traditional Mexican ingredient with a salty, spicy flavour. You should be able to find it in specialist food shops – or make your own (see below).
These spicy cacahuates or peanut snacks from Oaxaca can be addictive. They’re great with a cold Mexican beer. Make a big batch and store in an airtight container to have them to hand.
This Mexican classic from the Gulf of Mexico gets its distinctive flavour from both fresh and brined ingredients. Another plus – it’s ready in minutes and perfect with a chilled Mexican beer.
Every family in Mexico has their own way of preparing this fabulous dish, which originated in Oaxaca, so feel free to experiment with the recipe. Use your favourite chillies, vegetables and beans or add raisins or almonds.
One portion of this amazing, Mexican-inspired layered dish provides a healthy serving of all five food groups.
This tasty casserole evokes all the flavours of the Mexican dish that is traditionally steamed or baked in corn husks.
Made with ripe, buttery avocados and tart lime juice, guacamole also has a bit of heat from chillies. For the most authentic preparation and presentation, use a molcajete – a stone pestle and mortar. When you make guacamole, you should serve it right away, as it can discolour as it sits.
Shredded carnitas or “little meats”, slowly braised in a flavourful stock, are delicious in tacos, burritos, tamales and other dishes.
The most iconic of Spanish dishes, the joy of paella comes from flinging in whatever big-flavoured ingredients you fancy, so feel free to experiment.
This baked cheese starter is easy to assemble and delicious to eat.
Make these little savoury pies for your friends or serve as an appetiser. The hob can get quite hot, so ask an adult to help you when using it.
Amaranth is a small, round grain that was a staple food of the ancient Aztecs. It’s available in bulk in the health food aisle and, when cooked, can be used like rice or pasta in salads. Quinoa can be substituted for the amaranth, if you wish. Serve this salad right away so the avocado doesn’t discolour.
Pescado (fish) and mariscos (shellfish) from both the Gulf and Pacific Coasts of Mexico go into this one-dish meal known as zarzuela.
The Michelada beer cocktail, slang for “my cold beer”, originated in northern Mexico in the 1940s as a simple combination of beer, salt, lime and ice. Now, each bar has its own take.
Made from the blue agave plant that is native to the desert region of western Mexico, tequila evolved from a fermented beverage drunk by the Aztecs. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of brandy after they landed in 1521, they created tequila, the first distilled beverage in the New World. In Mexico, a margarita is made with native Key limes, the smaller, thinner-skinned version of the more common Persian lime. Use the best-quality tequila for the best flavour.
Carne asada is usually a thin beef steak, either cooked on a comal (griddle) indoors or on a barbecue outside. Marinated in a dark mixture of tropical juices, soy sauce and garlic, this steak can be sliced and served as an entrée or used as a filling for burritos and tacos.
Made with sugar, almonds and cinnamon, each small disc of Mexican chocolate has most of the flavourings you need to make this ice cream.
Known as chorizo con huevos y papas, this breakfast dish is a favourite at many basic eateries. Made with shredded or finely chopped pork seasoned with smoked, dried chillies, chorizo has a reddish colour and a spicy flavour. The sultanas add a touch of sweetness to counter the spicy chorizo.
Known as sopa de hongos salvajes, this dish is made during the autumn months in the sierra or mountainous areas of Oaxaca and Tlaxcala in central Mexico.
Pair the turkey with this salsa made from piñon nuts – from pine trees in northern Mexico.
Beef chuck, slow-simmered to a tender turn, is made all the more delicious with south-of-the-border seasonings.
Marinated in Mexican beer – hence the “drunken” or borrachos in the title – then grilled to perfection, these skewers can be served with Mexican rice, black beans and guacamole.