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Achiote Seeds (annatto seeds)

You use these earthy in flavor, these tiny rusty - red seeds from the annatto tree mainly for color. As a powder: grind seeds in a spice grinder and use like paprika to coat meats. To color oil: heat 2 parts vegetable oil and 1 part seeds over low heat until the oil is bright orange. Remove seeds and use oil as you would any fat in cooking.


These are the traditional nuts in Spanish - inspired sauces and desserts.

Anise Seeds

You use these seeds to give a licorice taste to sweet pastries.


It is a fruit known for its rich flavor and creamy texture.


They take a little time to prepare, but the results make for a tender but firm bean. You may find canned beans mushy; however, they are convenient and the liquid add flavor to many recipes. You can keep dried beans almost indefinitely.

  • Black Beans (frijoles negros, turtle beans)

These small beans are known for its hearty flavor.

  • Black-Eyed Peas (cowpeas)

  • They are a seed from the cowpea vine. The name comes from the black spot.

  • Garbanzo Beans (chick-peas)

They are beige in color with a nutty taste.

  • Pinto Beans (frijoles)

They are a brown-speckled beans with a pale or pink background.

Blue Cornmeal

Made from blue corn, it has a slightly more bitter taste than yellow or white cornmeal. The color is a characteristic slate - blue.


This Mexican caramel sauce comes in several flavor variations. The original style is a combination of goat milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. It is sold in jars and, after opening, it can be stored indefinitely in the refrigerator.


This pale green pear shaped squash with deeply furrowed skin. The Aztecs and Mayas of Mexico first grew chayote centuries ago. You can bake, steam, stuff, or saut� it.

Chili Powder

This is the blend of ground spices associated with the Texas � style �bowl of red.� Unlike ground red chile, is a dried chilli; you flavor chili powder with cumin and oregano.


This is a highly seasoned, coarsely ground pork sausage sold in links of various sizes.


It is also known as Chinese parsley or fresh coriander, this fresh herb is known for its distinctive pungent flavor.

Coriander Seeds

You can buy the seeds whole or ground. They are the seeds of the cilantro or coriander plant. Coriander seeds provide a warmer and less pungent flavor than cilantro leaves. However, do not substituted coriander seeds for cilantro.


You can buy the seeds whole or ground. It provides a warm, slightly bitter flavor. It is ideal for any chile - based sauce, especially the red.


This is a widely used Mexican herb. It is usually available dried.


It is the Spanish for bean. See Beans.

Ground Red Chiles

This is not blended chili powder. It is pure chile powder made from fine ground red chilies.

Ground Red Pepper

It is made from ground dried cayenne chilies and is often called cayenne pepper.


This fruit is yellow green with a pink flesh. When ripe, it has a deep aroma when ripe.


You use either yellow or white corn kernels and soaked in lime.


This Mexican root vegetable looks like a giant brown skinned turnip. With its white flesh, crisp texture and slightly sweet flavor, it is delicious raw or cooked.

Juniper Berries

These dried blue berries give gin its distinctive flavor. In Southwestern cooking, Pueblo Indian cooks add them to stews and game dishes for a bittersweet accent. Look for them in supermarket spice shelves.


The preferred fat for many traditional Southwestern dishes is lard, but home cooks and chefs today are bending tradition to focus on lighter flavor and health. In keeping with this shift, our recipes call for vegetable oil, olive oil, butter and vegetable shortening.


It is a very popular Mexican fruit. It has a peach-like flavor and a flowery scent.


This cornmeal dough comes from dried corn kernels softened with lime. The dough is used to make tortillas and tamales.


It is the Spanish word for �mixture.� Mole sauces are numerous.


It is the big round pads of the prickly pear cactus. They offer a crisp texture and flavor something like pickled green beans.


It is an important ingredient in Southwest cooking. Ground nuts are used in many sauces. You can use toasted nuts as a garnish or in baking. The most popular are almond, pecan, peanut and pine (Pi�on) nuts.


Also called wild marjoram, this aromatic herb is available fresh, dried or ground. It has a pleasant bitter undertone that especially complements dried chiles and tomatoes.


Used in many relishes, this fruit has a creamy golden yellow skin. The flesh is orange yellow.


Large pecan orchards dot the Southwest, where pecans are used extensively in appetizers through desserts.


This dark - brown Mexican raw sugar has a molasses like taste comes in hard cones of varying sizes.

Pine Nuts

They are the seeds of the Pi�on pine.


A banana relative, plantain has a thick skin and is large. It is ripe when the skin turns black.


Many call it hominy. It is really the food made from hominy.

Prickly Pear

It is the small fruit from the Prickly Pear cactus.

Pumpkin Seeds

Also called pepitas, these dark - green shelled pumpkin seeds. You find them either sold roasted and raw. Store in the refrigerator or freeze. Like nuts, they turn rancid if held too long at a warm room temperature.


It is Spanish for cheese.


This is a Mexican cooking staple.


It is pale, sharp-tasting liquor distilled from the Agave Plant (Century Plant).


They look like large green cherry tomatoes enclosed in papery husks. Sold fresh and canned, their mildly acidic flavor provides the base for many Southwestern salads and salsas.


It is a native South American fruit.


They are round, flat unleavened bread made from wheat or corn. Sizes range from a thicker 6 - to 7 - inch fajita style to a thinner 12 - inch burrito style. Corn Tortillas are cut up and make into corn chips.


It is the lining of pig and sheep stomachs. It is the traditional ingredient in Menudo Soup.

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