Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
15 May 2013 - 6:06 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM


Annatto (achiote) is a red seed with a mild earthy flavour. It is used in cooking for both colour and flavour and can also be used to dye fabric. It is sold as a pressed block.


Avocado is a popular Mexican ingredient, used in both salsas and to make guacamole. 


Beans are also known as frijoles. Pinto and Black turtle beans are the main types. Black turtle beans are used to make refried beans. 


Chillies are a primary flavour ingredient in Mexican food, whether smoked, dried, fresh or picked. Some of the most popular types include ancho chillies (mild and sweet – known as poblano when fresh); guajillo (requires long soaking); habanero (a super hot variety); jalepeno (the most common – known as chipotle when smoked and dried); and pasilla (mild to medium hot). 


Mexican chocolate is dark and bitter chocolate flavoured with cinnamon, almond and cloves. Used to make hot chocolate drinks.


Coriander (cilantro) is the most commonly used fresh herb in Mexican cooking.


A fungus (almost like a truffle) that grows on corn. It has a unique flavour and is used in coups and salsas.


Jamaica is a wild rosella flower that is used to make a cold tea.

Jicama or yam bean

Jicama or yam bean is a crunchy root vegetable. It can be eaten raw or cooked.


Lime is widely used in salsas, marinades and margaritas.


A type of cactus sold in jars that is an essential ingredient in Mexcian cooking. When cut into strips, it is known as Nopalitos.


Hominy is dried white corn that is used to make a much loved dish called Pozole. Some small restaurants in Mexico serve only this dish.


Tomatillos are sold as a canned product. They look like a small green tomato but are actually a member of the gooseberry family. They have a very tart flavour and are used in many dishes included salsas and stews.


Tortillas are soft, pancake like flatbreads, made with corn or wheat that are eaten with most meals.