Cuisine from Mexico

Chilies and chocolate, beaches and salsa, tacos and tequila – you sure know where we are. The perfect Spring Break destination and the fun place to be. Bienvenidos!! Welcome to the land of margaritas – Mexico!! Join us as EC partner and budding entrepreneur Lorenza takes us on a lip-smacking ride through her home cuisine.

Mexican cuisine is known for its strong flavors, colorful presentations and unique spicing. Though very popular in the United States and around the world, Lorenza insists that what most of us know as Mexican food might not be authentic and truly Mexican. Traditional Mexican cuisine uses mainly beans, corn, chilies and vegetables. Throughout the course of time and with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors who introduced pork, cereals, rice and fruits, the cuisine expanded. Today, the main ingredients of the cuisine include corn, meats, rice, beans and, of course, chilies along with avocado, cocoa and nopal (a vegetable from the stem of the prickly pear, a type of cactus). The most well-known Mexican dish, tacos, Lorenza explains is only one end of the spectrum of this delectable cuisine and probably the simplest of all its dishes. In Mexico, tacos are made in a wide variety of ways, but the basic version would be a corn or flour tortilla with chicken, fish or meats in the middle, served over a spicy sauce. Lorenza explains that at the other end of the spectrum would be the more gourmet dishes, which are elaborate, time-consuming and require specialized cooking techniques. She remembers the mole chicken her grandmother makes to be one of them. She explains it to be a chicken with a sauce (mole) made out of chilies and chocolate. My mouth waters at the very thought of the combination. That sounds truly yummy yum.

Lorenza emphasizes that the people of Mexico are a warm people with a great sense of hospitality. Family coming together every weekend over elaborate and grand meals is a way of life in Mexico. She fondly remembers how her family gets together at her grandparents’ place on all weekends. She says it is the norm for even extended family to come together on all occasions and celebrations and remembers food to be a major part of such get-togethers. In Mexican culture, meal times should be fun with meals being shared with family and friends.

True to her tradition, Lorenza has spent most of her time in Boston trying and perfecting her culinary skills. She has compiled some of her best and favorite family recipes for a website she is working on ( Lorenza was more than excited to share some of those recipes with us.

Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
Corn or flour tortillas rolled over a variety of fillings and covered in green spicy sauce, topped with cheese and cream.

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 tablespoon butter
3 green chilies
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
¬ Kilo of green tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
150 grams of gouda or swiss cheese
12 corn tortillas
« onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic

Preparation Method: Preheat oven to 480 degrees F. Boil the tomatoes with chilies in water for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Blend the tomatoes with 1 cup of the water in which they were cooked, then add the garlic, onion and cilantro to the blender. Mix well. Sauté the sauce in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil. Add salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof casserole dish greased with butter, place tortillas stuffed with chicken and closed like tacos. You can use toothpicks to hold them in place. Cover tortillas with green tomato sauce and put the cheese over them. Bake the enchiladas in the oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve enchiladas with refried beans and sour cream for garnish.

2 ripe avocados
juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon salt
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tomato chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped

Preparation Method: In a mixing bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice, onion and tomato. Add the chopped cilantro and slowly add the chopped serrano chile, depending on how spicy you want the dish. Add salt to taste. Serve the guacamole immediately with corn chips.

That’s a truly Mexican combination. Thank you, Lorenza, for the delectable tour and for these absolutely tempting recipes. My mouth waters at the very thought of this food. Yummy yum sets off again to explore more of these mouth-watering cuisines. We drop by next week at the land of black beaches and hot springs – Iceland.

Errata: Yummy Yum regrets the misprint in the previous edition, which read “Cuisine from Columbia” instead of “Cuisine from Colombia”, and apologizes for the same.

Niranjana Neelakantan Gupta is an EC Partner. A home-maker, Niranjana is enjoying exploring the cuisines of the world and introducing friends and family to some of the yummiest dishes from across the globe.

March 1, 2010
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