Cuisine of Mexico

International Cuisine, Mexico


Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

Part 15

Fiery Cuisines Part 12 …… Mexico..

At an early age, I feel in love with Mexican Food, I think my first encounter was Mexican Micks Jalepeno Corn Chips. From there I was hooked having Bean Nachos at 8’s Café in Tweed Mall, Years later after selling our Restaurant Shashemane, we were asked to take over the Mexican Cantina at Cabarita, which we revamped by introducing a Menu of Traditional inspired dishes that used base recipes that were authentic, with Modern Presentation…… My love for this Amazing cuisine continues today, 37 years after being first exposed.


Mexico is one of only a few countries in the world to have its cuisine classed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The reasons behind why and how Mexico’s cuisine became so distinctive can be found in the vastness of the country, as well as in the history of its colonial and immigrant past.

Ancient Mexican culinary history began about 9000 years ago, around 7000 BCE, when the Mayan culture occupied the areas we now call Belize, Guatemala and Ecuador where it reached its apex from 300 to 1000 CE.  The culture then moved to the Yucatan peninsula, perhaps because they had run out of trees to burn in the making of limestone stucco/cement for building, where the empire again attained amazing levels of sophistication.  Between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries deforestation, drought and 100 years of civil war reduced the Mayan to a dynasty easily conquered by the Spanish who mixed their cuisine with that of the local food ways to begin the history of Mexican food. The food of the ancient Mayan, Mixtec, Olmec, Toltec, Inca, and Aztec, although separated by time and distance, all existed within in a common agricultural universe cross fertilized by centuries of conquest and commerce that formed Mexican cuisine as we know it today. Ingredients used thousands of years ago are today still staples in Mexican cuisine, and many have now secured their places in pantries across the world

When the Spanish invaded Mexico in 1521, they brought with them many new varieties of livestock including pigs, cows and sheep, the likes of which Mexico had never seen. The Spanish explorer Cortez introduced Mexico to these and other foods such as dairy products, garlic and other spices as well as dairy products like cheese. Mexican food also has strong roots in the ancient Mayan culture.

Although Cortez brought new foods to Mexico, Mexico also educated him in a thing or two. He encountered a few new food items. It was a great effort of give and take and these foods have all worked together over then centuries to produce wonderful Mexican dishes.

According to Mexican food historians, many of the traditional Mexican foods have roots in other cultures as well as the Mexican culture. For instance, quesadillas, a mainstay in Mexico and considered to be authentic Mexican food actually not only have roots in Mexican traditions, but in Spanish as well. The corn tortilla, thought to be quintessential Mexican, is actually native American.

In addition to staples such as Corn and Chillies, native ingredients include Tomatoes, Squashes, Avocados, Cocoa and Vanilla, as well as ingredients not generally used in other cuisines such as edible flowers, vegetables such as huauzontle and papaloquelite or small criollo Avocados, whose skin is edible. European contributions include pork, chicken, beef, cheese, herbs and spices and some fruits. Tropical fruits such as Guava, Prickly Pear, Sapote, Mangoes, Bananas, Pineapple and Custard Apple are popular, especially in the centre and south of the country. Mexican dishes, including the quesadilla, are Spanish. Chillies are used for their flavours and not just their heat, with Mexico using the widest variety of Chillies. If a savory dish or snack does not contain Chillies, hot sauce is usually added, and chillies are often added to fresh fruit and sweets. The importance of the Chilli goes back to the Mesoamerican period, where it was considered to be as much of a staple as Corn and Beans. In the 16th century, Bartolomé de las Casas wrote that without Chillies, the indigenous people did not think they were eating. Even today, most Mexicans believe that their national identity would be at a loss without them. The hot sauce that is made from Chillies, though, is indigenous to Mexico. However, it is a little known Mexican food history fact that many of the spices thought to be Mexican are actually Spanish in origin. Black pepper, Cinnamon, Coriander and Oregano are several spices that are often used in Mexican cooking but are not native to the country.

The French are yet another chapter in Mexican food history. Under a brief French occupation in the 1860’s, Mexico was introduced to other new foods and cooking methods. This resulted in popular dishes like stuffed Chillies in a Walnut sauce, known as Chiles en nogado. These dishes, French inspired with a strong Mexican flair, have made their way through the various cultures to meld together and create dishes that the world can enjoy.

If the evolution of Mexico’s cuisine is mapped onto a temporal axis one way, then the other must be drawn through space across the great expanse of the country; from California to Guatemala, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. With so many indigenous cultures and culinary traditions spread through its vast territories, the rich variety of cooking styles in Mexico hardly comes as a surprise. Dishes by the same name can be found throughout the country, but where the meal is being served invariably informs the flavours of dish, infusing it with the idiosyncrasies of the region. This holds true on the western coasts of Sonora and Oaxaca; in the Caribbean enclaves of the Yucatan and Quintana Roo; through to the jungles of Chiapas and into the high plains of central Mexico. Traveling the country and tasting its food, you find that while the dishes may change with the states, from thick mountain stews to lime-cooked ceviche, an element in the cooking keeps your sense of place grounded firmly within the borders of Mexico.

When talking among food enthusiasts about Mexican cuisine, it seems that you are never further than one smooth conversational segue from the topic turning to the matter of mole. Pronounced molé, this is another dish which has been around in one form or another at least since the rise of the major civilizations in Mesoamerica. The ingredients for the rich sauces vary from region to region, but chillies are unsurprisingly ever-present, and preparations with over two dozen ingredients are common, which may include nuts, dried fruit, Chocolate, and a market stall of spices. While more prevalent on menus in the south, mole is one of the many dishes in Mexico that is shared and eaten at festivals and ceremonies.

In a country where Chillies are rarely absent from the dining table, drinks to see off thirst and the after-effects of capsaicin range from iced flower waters to thick corn-based shakes. As for alcohol, Mexico has fitted out its drinks cabinet a little more since the days of Moctezuma II, predominantly with cactus-based spirits and an impressive array of local beers, often doctored to include some form of Chilli and Lime. Tequila, and the manner of drinking it which has travelled abroad and wormed its way into the global psyche of a Sunday morning hangover, is treated a little differently within the borders of the República de México. More choice and better quality mean that tequila is a drink savoured as a national treasure, though this only adds to the rate of its consumption. Production takes place in the state of Jalisco, where towering blue Agave cacti cover the hills like spiked spines of long forgotten creatures

Now for the Recipes, and don’t expect the usual.



My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder


2 Serrano Chillies

2 Habanero Chillies

3 Scotch Bonnet Chillies

3 Chipotle Chillies

1 Ancho pepper

2 tsp Cumin seed

1 tsp dried Oregeno

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp roasted Cinnamon




Preheat the oven to 175°c.

Place all of the Chillies in a single layer on a heavy baking sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes, or until you can smell the Chillies. Don’t over-bake them.

Let the Chillies cool and remove the seeds.

Toast the Cumin seed in a pan. Let the pan  heat.

Add the Cumin seed and heat for up to a minute, stirring constantly.

When the Cumin changes colour remove from heat.

Add the cooled Chillies and Cumin seed to a blender.

Blend on high until the ingredients are powdered.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend.

Store tightly covered in a cool, dark place.


Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa



800 gm fire roasted Tomatoes

60 gm Green Serranos

2 tsp Garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup Coriander leaves

80 gm Brown onion, peeled and chopped

1 Habanero seeded

2 tsps gnd Cumin

2 tsp My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder

1 tsp Sea salt

½ tsp Black pepper

1 tsp dried Oregano

2 tbls Lime juice




Add all of the ingredients , except Tomatoes and Green Serranos to the food processor  Blend until evenly chopped. Add Tomatoes and Serranos process until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add additional, salt and pepper if desired.

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, can be frozen



Salsita de Chile Habanero (Roasted Habanero Salsa)



4 Habanero chillies charred over naked flame

6 Garlic cloves , roasted and then peeled

1/4 cup Grapefruit juice

1/4 cup Orange juice

1/4 cup Lime juice

1/4 cup White vinegar

2 tsp Sea salt



Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor and puree until smooth.



Grilled Wild Mushroom and Kale Tacos



1 cup Roasted Habanero Salsa (see recipe above)

1.25 kg Wild Mushrooms (I use Oyster, Swiss Browns and Shitakes)

5 tbls Olive Oil

¼ tsp Sea salt

¼ tsp gnd Black Pepper

1 small bunch Kale chiffonade

8 Corn Tortillas, warmed

½ cup Goats cheese, crumbled



Warm up the Habanero salsa. Set aside.

Heat pan over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, toss the Mushrooms in 2 tbls of oil sauté.

Remove, cut into slices, season with Salt and Pepper, and spoon Roasted Habanero Salsa over them.

Heat remaining oil in pan. Add the Kale and cook until crisp, turning often. Season with Salt and Pepper.

Spoon the Mushrooms on the Tortillas, garnish with the Kale and Goats cheese, and serve.


Chipotle Lime Fiery  Wings




24 chicken wings with skin , rinsed and patted dry (approx 1.5 kg)

Chipotle Chicken Rub

2 tbls Baking Powder

2 tsp Salt

2 tsp Chipotle Chilli powder

2 tsp gnd Cumin

1 tsp My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder (see my recipe above)

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp Garlic powder

1 tsp Onion powder

½ tsp gnd Pepper

Honey Lime Hot Sauce

¼ cup Honey

2 tbls Lime juice

½ tsp Maize cornflour

1 ½ tsp Fire Roasted Salsa

1 tbls Butter




Preheat oven to 160c.

In a bowl, mix together Rub Ingredients, Add half of the Rub to a large freezer bag.

Add half of the Wings and shake until coated evenly. Line up Wings on prepared baking rack so they are not touching (on a baking tray). Add remaining Rub ingredients and wings to freezer bag and repeat.

Bake on upper rack for 45-50 minutes at 160c. Move oven rack approximately 20cm from grill and turn oven to grill. Grill to desired crispiness, for extra crispiness, turn Chicken Wings over and grill the other side until crispy.

While Wings are cooling, melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Whisk in remaining Honey Lime Hot Sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Taste and add additional hot sauce for spicier sauces/more honey for sweeter.

Add Chicken to a large bowl and gently toss with Honey Lime Hot Sauce.



Pickled Habaneros


170 gm  Habaneros (20 pods)

280 gm Carrots peeled, and cut into rounds

120 gm White Onion cut in quarters

230 gm Cauliflower florets.

50 Gm Garlic cloves peeled

8m ml Olive oil

240 ml white Vinegar

240 ml Water

3 Bay leaves

½ tsp Oregano

½ tsp Thyme

1/3 tsp Marjoram

1 ½ tbls Sea Salt

½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper

1 ½ tsp Pimento crushed



Cut a small incision on the side of Habs

Heat the oil in a small pot over low heat.

Add the Carrots, Habs, Cauliflower, Onion and Garlic. Cook for about 7 minutes stirring. Until Habanero’s skins are tender and cook fast.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool.

Place in glass jars and keep in fridge. They will last for about 2 months.

Using a heat treating method then they will last for a year.


Veracruz Stuffed Chillies



For the Chillies

24 Green Aji’s

Cold Water

120ml White Wine Vinegar

2 tbls Salt

400g Brown Sugar



450g cooked Crabmeat, flaked

2 tbls Eshallots, sliced thinnly

160 gm Tomatoes, seeded / chopped

2 tbls Olive Oil

½ Lime Juiced

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Pepper



Place Chillies in a large pan together add Vinegar and Salt. Cover with water, bring to the boil , immediately remove pan from heat and rinse Chillies under cold water.

Return Chillies to the pan, add more cold water to cover, add half of the Sugar. Bring to a boil , simmer 5 mins. Drain and repeat procedure using the remaining Sugar.

Drain and rinse Chillies and set aside to cool.

Place all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss.

When the chillies are cold, make a lengthwise slit up one side of each chilli and remove the seeds.

Divide the filling evenly among chillies and serve  chilled.


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos



Spicy Black Beans

1 tbls Olive Oil

80 gm White Onion, chopped

1/3 tsp Sea salt

2 tsp gnd Cumin

¼ tsp My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder (see my recipe above)

3 cups cooked Black Beans

⅓ cup Water

1 tsp Lime juice

gnd Black pepper, to taste


Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1kg Sweet Potatoes ,peeled and sliced into 2 cm pieces

2 tbls Olive Oil

¼ tsp Cayenne pepper

¼ tsp Sea salt


Avocado-Pepita dip

2 Avocados, pitted

1 cup fresh Coriander

½ cup Pepitas

1 Serrano, seeded and roughly chopped

2 Garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbls Lime juice

2 tbls water

½ tsp Sea Salt

¼ tsp gnd Black pepper

10 small Corn tortillas



Roast the Sweet Potatoes in a  Preheated oven at 180 c

Toss Sweet Potatoes , Olive oil, Cayenne pepper and Salt.

Arrange single layered and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelizing at the edges.

Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the Onions and a sprinkle of salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Onions have softened and are turning translucent, 5 to 8 mins. Add the Cumin and Chilli powder and cook for about 30 seconds while stirring. Pour in the beans and water. Stir, cover and simmer.

Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and mash half of the beans. Remove from heat, stir in the Lime, season with Salt and Pepper, and cover .

Toast the Pepitas in a pan over medium heat, tossing, until they are fragrant and make popping noises, about 5 mins. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Scoop the Avocado flesh into a food processor. Add the Coriander, Serrano, Garlic, Lime juice, Water and Salt. Blend until smooth. Add almost all of the Pepitas (reserve a few tablespoons for garnish) and process just until the Pepitas are chopped into small. Taste, adjust seasoning. Transfer the dip to a small bowl for serving.

Heat the Tortillas, Stack the warmed tortillas on a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.

Assemble the tacos, spread Black Beans down the middle of each Tortilla, top with Sweet Potatoes and Avocado Pepita dip. Garnish with Feta, Pepitas, more Chilli.


Yucatan Chilli Lime Chicken



4 Chicken breasts

200 ml Olive Oil

160 ml Lemon juice

1 tsp Lemon zest

1 tbls Garlic

1 tbls Coriander seeds , crushed

¼ tsp Salt

1 tsp Paprika

2 tbls Coriander leaves, chopped


Wash the Chicken breasts, make 2 cm slits and put aside.

In a bowl, add Olive Oil with the rest ingredients and mix well.

Add Chicken breasts and marinate for minimum 1 hour in the fridge.

Heat pan on the stove top and add some oil.

Add marinated Chicken shallow fry both sides until the chicken is cooked soft and juicy.

Transfer the Chicken on a serving platter and serve with a dash of lime juice all over.


Sincronizadas with Avocado and Tempeh                 serves 4


1 block Tempeh cut into 8 thin slices

1 Avocado

2 Tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and diced

½ bunch Coriander

8 Tortillas

2 tsp. Roasted Habanero Salsa

200 g Tasty Cheese grated



Cut the Avocado in half, remove the seed, peel and cut 1 ½ cm cubes.

Wash the coriander, and finely chop.

Preheat the grill to 200 °C. Now spread 4 tortillas with 1/2 tsp. Roasted Habanero Salsa. Spread Tempeh over. Add the Avocado, Tomato and cheese evenly. Cover with the remaining tortillas.

Grill the Tortillas 5 mins, until the cheese has melted and the surface light brown bubbles.

Place 1 Sincronizadas on a plate and cut into 6 wedges.



Pork Carnitas




2 ½ kg Pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat

1 tbls Olive Oil

¼  cup Orange juice

2 tbls Lime juice

1 tsp Liquid smoke

2 Bay leaves

80 gm Onion, chopped

1 Serrano, deseeded, chopped


Wet Spice Rub

3 tbls Olive Oil

2 tbls Tomato Paste

1 tbls light Soy sauce

60 gm Brown sugar

1 tbls gnd Cumin

2 tsps Oregano

2 tsps Salt

1 tsp My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder (see my recipe above)

1 tsp Garlic powder

1 tsp Onion powder

½ tsp Smoked Paprika

½ tsp Black pepper



Heat 1 tbls Olive Oil over high heat in a large pan.

Sear Pork on all sides until lightly browned. Transfer Pork to cutting board until cool enough to handle.

Whisk together all of the Wet Spice Rub ingredients in a medium bowl.

When Pork is cool enough, coat with Wet Spice Rub evenly all over then transfer Pork to slow cooker. Add Orange juice, Lime juice, Liquid smoke, and 2 Bay leaves to slow cooker. Top Pork with Onions and Serrano.

Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or until Pork is falling apart and easily shreds with a fork.

Remove Pork from slow cooker to cutting board, shred, and add back to slow cooker and toss with juices. Cook on low for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 c.

Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

After 20 minutes, remove Pork (do NOT discard juices in slow cooker) and add shredded Pork to both baking sheets in an even layer. Drizzle with some of the remaining juices (about 1/4 cup) and bake for 15 minutes then grill to desired crispiness, don’t let meat burn (about 5-10 minutes). Drizzle with additional juices and toss.

Serve warm in tortillas, on rice, salad, top with Jondy Ring Sting.



Black Bean Mango Chipotle and Cola Chilli




500 gm lean Mince Beef

1 tbls Olive Oil

60 gm Brown Onion, diced

120 gm Red Capsicum, diced

2 tsp Garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbls Brown sugar

2 tsps gnd Cumin

2 tsps My Twisted Mexican Chilli Powder (see my recipe above)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Smoked Paprika

½ tsp gnd Black Pepper

½ tsp dried oregano

800 gm cooked crushed tomatoes

800gm cooked black beans

1 mango, chopped

3 Chipotle Chillies in Adobo Sauce chopped

285 ml Jarritos cola ( I by mine at Coles)



1 mango chopped

100 gm shredded Tasty Cheese

150 gm crushed Tortilla chips

Coriander chopped




Heat 1 tablespoon Olive Oil over medium-high heat.

Add Beef and Onions, cook until Beef is to your liking.

Add Capsicum, Garlic and spices and saute for 2minutes.

Add Brown sugar, Tomatoes, Beans, ¾ of the Cola and the Chipotle; adding Chipotles

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until chilli has thickened to desired consistency and flavour. Stir occasionally

Top with shredded Cheese, chopped Mangoes, crushed Tortilla chips and chopped Coriander



Andrews Hell Fire Chipotle Chicken




750 gm Chicken breasts flattened thin and cut into bite size pieces

2 eggs

2 tbls water


Chicken Coating

1 cup Plain Flour

¼ cup Maize cornflour

1 tsp Onion powder

1 tsp Garlic powder

½ tsp Sea salt

½ tsp Black pepper

½ tsp Smoked Paprika

½ tsp gnd Cumin

½ tsp Chipotle Chilli powder


Andrews Hell Fire Chipotle Sauce

4 tsp La Morena Chipotles, chopped

2 tsp Adobo sauce from can of La Morena Chipotles

½ cup Red Wine Vinegar

½ cup Honey

3 tbls Sugar

50 gm Spanish Onion, roughly chopped

10 gm Garlic cloves, peeled

100gm Green Capsicum,

¼ Bunch Coriander leaves and stems

1 tbls tomato paste

½ tsp gnd Cumin

¼ tsp Sea salt

¼ tsp Black pepper

2 tsp Maize cornflour




Line a baking tray and top with a cooling rack.

Whisk Eggs and Water in a large bowl.

Combine the Flour coating ingredients in a large freezer bag.

Dip Chicken pieces in the Egg wash, remove and allow any excess Egg to drip off, then add to Flour mixture. Shake until evenly coated.

Place Chicken on prepared baking sheet and lightly baste Chicken with oil. Bake at 180c for 10 minutes.

Move the baking tray to the top oven rack and grill until crispy, watching closely so the chicken doesn’t burn (about 2-5 minutes). For extra crispy Chicken, turn Chicken pieces over and grill another 2-3 minutes, or until golden in some places and crispy.

While Chicken is baking, prepare the Hell Fire Chipotle Sauce by placing all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and add additional chipotles to taste.

Add sauce to a small pan and bring to a boil, while stirring constantly. Boil until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add cooked chicken to a large bowl then pour sauce over top and combine.