Mexican dishes are typically dishes which birthed in the Mexican cuisine. These dishes are famous for their varied flavors, array of spices, several ingredients and colorful presentation.
Most of the Mexican food components are native to the country, but some of them are imported from different countries and grown locally for culinary purposes. However, Mexican dishes have evolved through an amalgamation of European as well as indigenous ingredients since the 16th century.
When Spanish and Portuguese soldiers and explorers had arrived in Mexico City they noticed the excessive use of corn, chilies and herbs in the dishes of Mexico. Tomatoes and beans were also widely used to complement the dishes during 1520’s. That was the time when Spanish soldiers had introduced cattle, poultry, rice, barley, wheat, olive oil, almonds and many spices to the Mexican cuisine. In this way through Spanish invasion, the several elements of Spanish cuisine had eventually incorporated into Mexican cuisine. All these components are now the basis of most of the popular Mexican dishes such as Arroz Espanol, burrito, arroz con pollo, chile relleno and flautas.
Commonly Used Ingredients in Mexican Dishes
Corn and beans are the staples of Mexican dishes. Mexican tamales, tortillas and many other corn-based dishes are prepared with ‘masa,’ a flour made with corn. Other prominent components of the dishes prepared in Mexican cuisine are peppers, squash, oregano, cilantro, chipotle, epazote and cocoa. Garlic and onion are also widely used to flavor the vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian Mexican dishes.
Another staple of Mexican cuisine is rice that has varied uses with or without other components. The Spaniards had largely influenced the cuisine of Mexico; therefore the use of beef, ostrich and goat can be seen largely in Mexican dishes.
The Southeastern Mexican cooking is largely based on Caribbean cooking; therefore, it is popular for spicy dishes with chicken as the main meat.
Cheese-making techniques introduced by the Spanish people led to the introduction of various cheeses in Mexican cuisine. There are around 40 varieties of cheese used in Mexican cooking.
Other than these, honey and chocolate has special mention in Mexican culinary world. Honey is used to sweeten savory dishes as well as in desserts. Chocolate is also used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes such as Mexican ‘Mole’ and ‘hot chocolate fudge’ with Mexican –style.
Tequila and beer are the most commonly used alcoholic drinks in Mexico.
List of Mexican Dishes
Mexico’s large size and presence of various ethnic groups in the country led to the development of several unique dishes. Here is a list of some of the popular dishes in Mexico:
- Ceviche – It is a popular seafood dish that is typically prepared with lime juice and chili pepper marinated fresh raw fish. Onion and seasalt are the popular additions to ceviche.
- Consommé – It is clear broth prepared with minced meats, mirepoix, egg whites and tomatoes added in stock.
- Elote – It is actually ‘corn on cob’ in Mexico. A popular Mexican street food, this dish is low in fat and extremely healthful. Lemon-pepper, chili pepper, cheese and butter are generally added to enhance the flavor of the corn cob.
- Guacamole – A very popular avocado dip in Mexican cuisine, it is mainly used to savor the Mexican tortillas and other snacks. Quite often tomatoes, minced chili and lime juice are added to flavor the dip.
- Pico de gallo – A fresh, uncooked salsa made with white chopped onion, chopped tomatoes and chopped chilies. A variation if also prepared with chopped fruits tosses in lime juice. Watermelon, papaya, orange and melon are the commonly used fruits for pico de gallo.
- Albondigas – It is Mexican dish prepared with meatballs. Typically eaten with rice, this dish is extremely popular in Mexican cuisine.
- Burrito – It is a kind of tortilla roll filled with meat or beans filling. Lettuce, salsa, sour cream, avocado and cheese are the other filling components.
- Carnitas – Pork is roasted or braised to make Mexican carnitas. It can be served by itself or can be shredded and combined with guacamole, salsa, onion and radishes to make tacos and burritos.
- Atole – It is a traditional Mexican drink based on ‘masa’. Often blended with chocolate, this drink is known as champurrado. It is popularly served at Las Posadas, a Christams festival in Mexico.
- Cajeta – It is a Mexican dessert made with caramelized milk and sweetened with sugar syrup.
Nutritional Value of Mexican Dishes
Traditional Mexican dishes are considered healthy, as they are based on lean meats and plant foods including vegetables and legumes. Whereas the dishes influenced by American cuisine are often smothered with cheese or lard; therefore, considered fatty and not suitable for regular consumption.
Since most of the traditional dishes in Mexican cuisine are based on fresh vegetables, beans and whole-wheat, the fiber content is extremely high in the dishes. Fresh salsa, guacamole and other freshly made dips are packed with vitamins and minerals and are even low in calories.
Mexican dishes perfectly blend the indigenous components with foreign elements; therefore, UNESCO added the Mexican cuisine to the list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ in November 2001.