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Glossary of Mexican Cooking Words

Glossary of Mexican Food Terms A-Z.

Abul�n Abalone

Aceite Oil

Aceite de olivo Olive oil

Aceituna Olive

Acelga Swiss chard

Acitr�n Candied fruit made from shoots of the biznaga cactus used as a candy or ingredient in stuffings.

Acocil Small, fresh water crustaceon

Acuyo Piper sanctum. Plant with large leaves which has an anis-like flavor and is used to flavor stews and to wrap tamales. More often called hoja santa in Mexico and "root beer plant' in this country.

Achiote The seed of the annato tree which is used to make a seasoning paste of the same name in the Yucatan. The paste is made by grinding the seeds with garlic, spices and lime juice or vinegar.

Adobo A seasoning paste, usually containing ground chiles, vinegar, garlic and spices that is used to coat meats, poultry and seafood prior to cooking or drying to preserve. Similar to the Yucatan recado or recaudo, and achiote.

Agua Water

Aguacate Avocado. In Nahuatl the avocado was called ahuacatl, which means "testicle," referring to the shape of the fruit.

Aguamiel The sweet juice of the maguey plant, that when fermented produces pulque.

Aguas frescas A genre of soft drinks made by infusing water with various flavorings including tamarind, ch�a, and flor de jamaica

Aguay�n Sirloin

Aguja Litterally "needle." A cut of chuck steak that is one of the favorite al carb�n (char-broiled) specialties of northern Mexico

Ahumar To smoke foods. For example, pescado ahumado means smoked fish.

Ajo Garlic

Ajonjoli Sesame

Albaricoque Apricot. See also chabacano.

Alb�ndiga Meatball. Meat, poultry or fish that is ground and rolled into balls with other ingredients before cooking.

Al carb�n Cooked over charcoal or wood coals

Alambre Literally "wire." Refers to shishkabobs. Also see brocheta.

Albahaca Basil

Alegr�a A traditional sweet dating from pre-Hispanic times made of toasted amaranth seeds and honey or syrup.

Almeja Clam

Almendra Almond

Alm�bar Syrup

Almuerzo Traditionally a midmorning meal that is often used as a translation for "lunch."

Al vapor Food cooked al vapor is steamed

A�ejo Refers to something that has been aged, such as liquor or cheese.

An�s Aniseed

Antojito The word antojito comes from the Spanish word antojo which means whim


Antojitos in Mexican Food and Mexican Cooking Antojitos mexicanos, the corn and tortilla-based dishes.

Burritos Burritos consist of a filling, usually shredded or dried meat, often mixed with a chile sauce, wrapped in a large, thin flour tortilla. They are a specialty of the State of Sonora where they are often packed into saddlebags.

Cazuelitas These are a specialty of Chilapa in the state of Guerrero. They are made by pressing a thin layer of tortilla dough around the outside of a small mold and then deep frying it to produce a crisp shallow corn cup. They are filled with shredded meat and other taco fillings.

Chalupas These are made by pressing tortilla dough into an elongated shape with a ridge around the edge, resembling the chalupas or canoes from which they take their name. They are cooked on a comal, and sometimes fried as well, then topped with shredded meat, cheese and similar fillings.

Chilaquiles Chilaquiles are made with totopos, the crisp fried tortilla quarters that are so familiar as complimentary appetizers in Mexican restaurants. The fried chips are mixed with either a red, green or tomatillo-based chile sauce and heated, often with chicken and cheese as well, and served at breakfast.

Chimichangas Deep fried burritos.

Enchiladas  consist of a corn tortilla that has been "softened" in hot oil and often dipped in a chile sauce, wrapped around a filling of either meat or cheese, then garnished with a little more sauce and cheese. Sonora style enchiladas are made by covering a very thick corn tortilla with heated chile sauce and cheese. (In Mexican-American cooking enchiladas are often made without the initial dipping in sauce and are heated after being topped with a large quantity of chile sauce and cheese, and sometimes sour cream, as well).

Enfrijoladas Enfrijoladas are similar to enchiladas except that they are covered with thinned, refried beans, rather than a chile sauce, and the softened tortillas are often folded in half twice into a triangle shape.

Entomatadas Enchiladas made by dipping the tortillas to be wrapped around the filling in a sauce, usually of tomato and chiles in the south and more often of tomatillos and chile in the north.

Envueltos Another name for tacos that are filled and fried.

Flautas are made by rolling a large corn tortilla around a filling, usually shredded meat, and then deep frying it to a crisp golden brown. Also see taquitos.

Garnachas Another member of the gordita family from the Yucatan, often made with the masa shaped into little "plates" with raised edges, then fried.

Gorditas Gorditas are made with tortilla dough (occasionally with the addition of other ingredients such as wheat flour or potato) which is patted into circles of 2 - 3 inches then cooked on a comal and sometimes deep fried as well. The filling, often beans or shredded meat and cheese is placed in the pocket formed when a small layer or skin of dough puffs up from the top and can be peeled open.

Molotes Corn masa for tortillas, sometimes with a little wheat flour added, is mixed with some lard, rolled into small oblongs, filled and pressed into oblong shaped little packages which are then fried until golden and crisp.

Pambazo From the pharase pan bazo, which means literally, brown bread. Originally this term referred to the crudest, most inferior bread. Now it is most often used in connection with two different antojitos: one made with unleavened wheat flour dough that is filled, rolled into an oblong shape and fried. The other consists of a small torta made with a small version of either a bolillo or telera.

Panuchos This specialty from the Yucatan is made by peeling back the thin skin that puffs from the tortilla as it cooks, filling it, sandwich style, with fried black beans and shredded meat, then frying it to a golden brown. It is then topped with shredded meat.

Papadzules These are the enchiladas or soft tacos from the Yucatan that are filled with hardboiled egg and topped with both tomato and pumkin seed sauces.

Pellizcadas A type of gordita or chalupa that is made by pinching (pellizcar means "to pinch"}up the dough around the edges to create a raised border to help contain the filling.

Picada Another regional name for gordita.

Quesadillas are tortillas, usually corn but also flour, that are folded over a filling of cheese, sometimes with the addition of an epazote leaf, squash blossom or other ingredient, and cooked on a greased or ungreased griddle until the cheese is melted and the tortilla begins to become crisp. In some areas an uncooked corn tortilla is folded over the cheese and sealed like a turnover, then fried in oil until crisp

Salbutes Tortilla masa, often with flour added, is formed into a small, fairly thick tortilla, fried until crisp and light, then topped with shredded meat and vegetables. A specialty of the Yucatan

Sopes Another name for gorditas

Tacos Tacos are basically tortillas wrapped around a filling. They are usually defined by either the type of filling, the type of tortilla (corn or flour) and whether the taco is fried or not.

Tacos al pastor These tacos are filled with thin slices of marinated pork cooked on vertical spits set beside charcoal, gas or electric heat sources.

Tacos al carb�n This specialty of northern Mexico refers to tacos filled with charbroiled meats.

Tacos al vapor Tacos whose meat filling, often from a cow or goat's head is steamed.

Tacos de barbacoa Tacos made from barbacoa.

Tacos de carnitas Tacos made from carnitas.

Tacos de cazuela This refers to tacos filled with ingredients, usually a stew of some sort, cooked in a cazuela.

Tacos a la plancha Tacos made from meats cooked on a comal or griddle.

Tacos dorados The name of these tacos comes from the golden crisp-fried corn tortilla which encloses them. Usually the filling is of shredded meat.

Tacos sudados o de canasta "Sweated or basket" tacos get their name from the fact that they are prepared, often with a stewed, shredded filling, then placed between towels in a basket to keep them warm until they are consumed.

Tacos de ma�z o harina Tacos de ma�z are tacos made with corn tortillas and tacos de harina with flour tortillas.

Tamales The original pre-Hispanic tamales were made by placing some uncooked masa (tortilla dough) on a fresh or dried and rehydrated corn husk, adding a filling of meat, seafood, insects, vegetables or fruit, wrapping the husk into a package and steaming it. Following the introduction of lard by the Spanish, this fat was added to the dough which makes it much lighter, and more savory. Tamales are also made with fresh ground corn. In Esplendor y grandeza de la cocina mexicana, Sebasti�n Verti describes well over a hundred regional varieties made with almost every imaginable ingredient.

Taquitos Taquitos are essentially the same as flautas but are theoretically made with smaller tortillas.

Tlacoyos This is one of the oldest antojitos of all. Tlacoyos are made by patting tortilla dough around a filling, often of squash blossoms, huitlacoche or mushrooms, until fully enclosed into an elongated shape, which is then cooked on a comal

Tortas compuestas This is the famous Mexican version of the sandwich. Fillings, including various meats or stews and sometimes whole tamales are placed inside a roll, often a telera, from which some of the crumbs have been removed. Often tortas are named for the country of origin of the filling such as Torta Italia which may contain mortadella.

Aperitivo Appetizer or aperitif.

Apio Celery

Arracheras Skirt steak or fajitas

Arriero Mule driver. Several dishes were named after these colorful characters.

Arroz Rice

Asado Broiled

Asadero A barbecue or grill. Also a type of cheese the texture of mozzarella that is made with half fresh and half day-old milk.

Asar To broil

Ate Jam

Atole A thick drink, dating from pre-Hispanic times, made with ground, dried corn and water or milk, and occasionally with other ingredients and seasonings, that can be taken hot or cold.

At�n Tuna

Ayocote A large type of bean, also spelled ayecote.

Azafr�n Saffron

Azafrancillo Ditaxis heterantha. A plant whose bulbs are used to color foods, and often used as a substitute for saffron.

Azucar Sugar

Azucarera Sugar bowl

Bacalao Dried fish, usually cod, a traditional Christmas dish in Spain and parts of Mexico.

Balch� A Mayan alcoholic beverage made from bark of the balch� tree and honey.

Ba�ar Literally "to bathe." Often used in instructions to cover a food with sauce.

Barbacoa Meat cooked in a sealed, underground pit, usually wrapped in maguey or sometimes banana leaves. Often the meat is placed on a grill over a cauldron filled with water, vegetables, beans, chickpeas, herbs and spices to create a soup, flavored with the drippings.

B�scula Scale

Batidora electrica Electric mixer

Batir To whisk or beat as in to beat eggs.?

Betabel Beet

Birria A barbacoa specialty of Jalisco made with lamb or goat.

Bistec Beefsteak

Bizcocho Cupcake or cookie, often flavored with anis.

Biznaga A type of cactus, resembling a barrel cactus, from whose young stalks acitr�n, (candied cactus) which is used as a flavoring in stuffings such as for chiles en nogada, is made.

Blanco de Patzcuaro A mild flavored fish from Lake Patzcuaro in Michoac�n, for which the town of the same name is justly famous. It is usually fried in an egg batter and is often served al mojo de ajo: with garlic sauce.

Blanquear To blanch

Blanquillo Egg. A term not used much in Mexico, but which avoids the possible double entendre of the more common huevo, which is also a slang term referring to testicles.

Bocadillo Snack or finger food

Bolillo French style, crusty bread rolls made in the shape of a bobbin that is served with entrees and used for sandwiches.

Borracho Literally "drunk" and refers, in the culinary sense, to sauces made with pulque, beer or tequila, and to beans cooked with pulque or beer.

Borrego Sheep

Botana Snacks or appetizers, often taken with drinks in a bar or before a meal.

Brasear To braise

Brocheta Shishkabob or skewer. Also called alambre which literally means "wire."

Bud�n Pudding

Bu�uelo A fritter made of fried wheat flour dough and flavored with a syrup or honey, and often anis and cinnamon as well.

Burritos See antojitos.

Cabrito Kid

Cabuche Flower of the biznaga cactus

Cacahuacentli Also spelled cacahuacintle and cacahuazintle. A type of corn with large ears and round grains (resembling cacao beans) often used to make tamales cernidos (strained tamales, meaning that the dough is strained to make it extra fine and spongy) and pozole.

Cacahuate Peanut

Cacerola Casserole dish.

Caf� Coffee or a cafe.

Caf� de Olla Mexican style coffee made in a clay pot

Caguama A large, now endangered, turtle. Also used to refer to an extra large bottle of beer or any large item.

Cajeta A confection made by simmering goat's milk and sugar to a thick paste. A specialty of Celaya now found throughout Mexico. Sell also

leche quemada.

Calabacita Squash

Calabaza Pumpkin or very large squash

Calamar Squid

Caldo Soup or broth

Camar�n Shrimp

Camote Sweet potato. Also refers to the famous cigar-shaped sweets of Pueblawhich are made with sweet potatoes and fruit.

Campechano A term applied to various seafood cocktails

Campechana Cocktail. Sometimes used in general and sometimes to refer to specific drinks from Campeche where the word cocktail is said to have originated.

Canela Cinnamon

Capear To cover food with batter and fry it.

Capirotada A pudding of bread fruit and syrup flavored with spices such as cinnamon and allspice, commonly prepared during Lent.

Capul�n A type of fruit resembling a wild cherry, used for medicinal and ornamental purposes.

Caramelo Caramel

Carne Meat

Carne asada Broiled meat. Also, in parts of northern Mexico, this term refers to a cookout or picnic where meat is cooked over coals.

Carne de puerco Pork

Carne de res Beef

Carne molida Ground meat or hamburger

Carnero Mutton

Carta Menu

Caz�n Shark. See also tibur�n.

Cazuela Large, clay cooking vessel that is wider at the top than at the bottom.

Cazuelitas See antojitos.

Cebollitas de cambray Green onions or scallions

Carnitas Pork, usually simmered in enough lard to cover it, often with the addition of garlic and sometimes fruit juices, until tender and crisp, then used as a filling for tacos. A specialty of Michoac�n.

Cebolla Onion

Cebiche Often spelled ceviche. Fish that is "cooked" by the chemical action of lime juice in which it is soaked, and is then mixed with other ingredients and served, usually as an appetizer.

Cecina Paper thin pieces of dried or partially dried beef or pork that are sometimes infused with powdered or ground chiles and other seasonings.  Sometimes called tasajo, especially in Oaxaca.

Cedazo Strainer or sieve

Cena Supper

Cerdo Pig

Cernidor Sifter

Cernir To sift

Cerveza Beer

Ceviche See cebiche

Cilantro Coriander

Ciruela Plum

Ciruela pasa Prune

Clavetear To decorate or adorn

Clavo de olor Clove

Clemole Another word for mole, sometimes used in the diminutive, clemolito.

Cocada A sticky sweet made with coconut.

Cocer To cook, boil or simmer.

Cocinar To cook.

Coco Coconut

Coctel Cocktail

Codillo Elbow or knuckle.

Codorniz Quail

Col Cabbage. See also repollo.

Coladera Colander, sieve or strainer

Colonche An alcoholic beverage found in northern Mexico, made by fermenting tunas from the nopal cactus.

Color�n Edible, red flowers from the tree of the same name.

Comal A griddle made originally from clay, but now more usually from iron, steel, tin or aluminum.

Comida A meal, often referring to the principal one taken in the mid or late afternoon.

Comino Cumin

Conejo Rabbit

Confitar To crystallize. To sweeten. To cook fruit in syrup.

Congelador Freezer

Conserva Preserves. Food preserved in sealed, sterilized jars.

Cordero Lamb

Cortar To cut

Corunda A trangle shaped tamal which is a speciality of Michoac�n.

Costillas Ribs

Costillas chuletas Rib steaks.

Crema Cream

Cremera Creamer

Crepas Crepes

Cuchara Spoon

Cucharada Tablespoon

Cucharadita Teaspoon

Cuchillo Knife

Cuitlacoche Often spelled Huitlacoche The intensely black, mushroomlike corn smut used as a filling for antojitos or an ingredient in soups.

Chabacano Apricot (See also albaricoque)

Chalupas See Antojitos.

Chambarete Shank of beef

Chamberete de carnero Lamb or mutton shank

Champi�on Mushroom. See also hongo.

Champurrado An atole flavored with chocolate

Charal Minnow-sized fish, often from Lake Patzcuaro in Michoc�n, that are dried.

Charola Baking dish.

Chaya Jatropha aconitifolia. Large-leafed vegetable used to flavor soups, stews and to wrap tamales.

Chayote A type of squash called Mirliton in the southern U.S..

Ch�a, Salvia hispanica. A plant whose seeds have been used since pre-Hispanic times as in ingredient in drinks, cereals and tamales. Oil extracted from the seed was one of the few pre-Hispanic sources of fat.

Chicozapote Manilkara zapota. A small brown fruit from the chicle tree from which latex is made. The fruit is quite sweet and excellent in taste.

Ch�charo Pea

Chicharr�nes Pork skins which are fried in lard and eaten as a snack or used as a filling for tacos and as an ingredient in soups.

Chicozapote Smallish brown-skinned fruit with a mild flavor somewhat like that of a pear.

Chilacayote Cucurbita Ficofolia Bouch�. Gourd with edible flesh and seeds.

Chilaquiles See antojitos.

Chilatole An atole flavored with ground broiled tomatoes and chiles.

Chilmole A flavoring paste from the Yucatan made with dried chiles that are dry roasted on a comal until blackened, often with grain alcohol to enhance the charring effect, and other spices. Also spelled chimole or chirmole

Chilocuil Red maguey worms. second in popularity to the meocuil or white maguey worm.

Chilorio A meat filling, popular in northern Mexico. Usually made with pork but sometimes with beef, that is boiled, shredded, then fried with ground chiles and other spices.

Chilpachol A soup made with crab meat and tomato.

Chimichanga Often spelled chivichanga. See Antojitos.

Chiquihuite A large, often shallow basket.

Chirmole See chilmole.

Chirimoya Annona cherimola Mill. A scaley greenish-brown fruit that is white inside with large seeds. Very sweet with a custard-like flavor and grainy texture.

Chivo Goat

Chocolate Chocolate

Chorizo Mexican or Spanish style sausage. The Spanish version is usually dried and flavored with paprika, while Mexican style chorizo is usually sold fresh either in links or in bulk and is flavored with chiles such as the ancho and pasilla.

Chorote An atole served in the state of Tabasco, flavored with sugar and chocolate.

Chuleta Chop (as in chuleta de puerco, or pork chop).

Damiana Turnera diffusa; Turnera aphrodisiaca. Planta turner�cea. An herbal plant found in Baja California that is said to have aphrodisiacal qualities.  It is used as an ingredient in a sweet liquor of the same name that makes an excellent addition to the Margarita cocktail. It is also used to make tea..

Dasayuno Breakfast. Literally: Break Fast (Des Ayuno).

Dat�l Date

Derretir To melt.

Desgrasar To remove grease.

Deshuesar To remove bones

Destapador Bottle opener

Desvenar Remove veins, as from chiles.

Diezmillo Chuck steak

Diluir To dilute

Dorado Dolphin. Also means browned.

Dorar To brown

Dulce Sweet or candy.

Dulcer�a Candy shop

Durazno Peach

Dzotobichay A tamal from the Yucatan that is wrapped with chaya leaves.

Ejotes Green beans

Elote Fresh corn, (as opposed to ma�z or dried corn).

Embutido Cold meat, sausage and the making of sausage.

Empanada A pastry turnover filled with either meats or fruits and other sweets.

Empanizar To bread or to fry items such as meat that have been coated with bread crumbs.

Enchilada See antojitos.

Enchilado Meat, cheese or other foods that are coated with chile paste or powder. For example: queso enchilado, is a cheese that has been coated with chile.

Enfrijolada See Antojitos

Enharinar To flour

Ensalada Salad

Ensaladera Salad bowl.

En su jugo Meat or poultry cooked in its own juice.

Entomatadas See Antojitos.

Entrada Entree

Envueltos See antojitos.

Epazote Chenopodium ambrosioides. An herb found wild throughout North America that is used extensively to flavor beans, soups, stews and quesadillas.

Escabeche A mixture of vinegar, oil, herbs and seasonings used to preserve or "pickle" foods such as poultry, fish, chiles and other vegetables.

Escaldar Blanch, scald.

Escamoles Ant eggs, considered a delicacy in pre-Hispanic times.

Escurrir To strain.

Espaghetti Spaghetti

Espel�n A small, black bean from the Yucatan.

Espinazo Spine

Estofado A stew. Stewed or braised.

Estrag�n Tarragon

Estufa Stove

Exprimador Juicer

Exprimir To squeeze.

Falda Literally "skirt," but usually refers to the flank steak rather than the skirt steak, which is usually called arracheras.

F�cula Starch

Fiambre A mixture of various foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses that is usually marinated in a dressing and served cold.

Fideos Noodles or pasta, usually fideo refers to a coil of dried, angel hair sized pasta

Filete Filet

Flamear To flame as in a flaming dessert.

Flan Custard or dessert made with milk or cream and eggs.

Flautas See Antojitos.

Flor Flower

Flor de calabaza Squash blossom

Flor de jamaica The deep red portion of the flowers which cover the seeds from a plant often referred to in English as hibiscus, used to make soft drinks and "tea."

Fondo Broth or consume made from soup bones or, a reduced stock

Fogon Hearth

Frasco Jar

Freir To fry.

Fresadilla Another word for tomatillo, sometimes used in northern Mexico.

Fresas Strawberries

Frijoles Beans

Frijoles borrachos Beans cooked with beer or pulque.

Frijoles colados Beans that are cooked, then strained before frying.

Frijoles maneados Beans fried with cheese, a specialty of Sonora.

Frijoles refritos Refried beans.

Fritada Northern Mexican dish made by cooking kid in its blood.

Frito Fried

Fruta Fruit

Fundir To melt. See also derretir

Garnachas See Antojitos.

Golosina Candy or sweet

Gordita See Antojitos.

Granada Pomegranate

Grasa Grease or fat.

Guacamole Avocado ground to a paste, sometimes mixed with onions, chiles, tomato, lime juice and cilantro.

Guajolote Turkey (see also pavo).

Guarnaci�n Accompanyment to the main entree such as vegetables.

Guan�bana Annona muricata L. A medium large, sour fruit often used in ice cream.

Guayaba Psidium guajava L. A medium to small yellow fruit with a fresh, almost sour, pungent taste that is delicious to some and awful to others. The trees leaves were used by the Aztecs in the treatment of diarrhea.

Guisado Stewed

Guisar To stew or cook.

Guiso A stew or casserole.

Gusanos de Maguey Worms found on the Maguey (agave) plant that, when fried are considered a delicacy. The worm often found in bottles of mescal.

Haba Boradbeans, Large, yellowish, broad beans of the lima bean family, originally from Europe and popular in Mediterranean cooking.

Harina Flour

Harina de Ma�z Flour made from nixtamalized corn for making masa for tortillas and tamales

Harina de trigo Wheat flour

Helado Ice cream

Hervir To boil

Hielo Ice

Hierbabuena Mint. Also spelled yerbabuena

Hierbas Herbs

Higado Liver

Higo Fig

Hojaldre Puff paste

Hoja Santa Piper sanctum. A plant whose large, soft leaves with the flavor of anis are used as an ingredient in stews and tamales. Often referred to as the rootbeer plant. Especially popular in Oaxaca. See also acuyo

Hongo Mushroom. Also referred to as champi�on

Horchata Soft drink prepared by blending water or juice with melon seeds or

rice, and with additional ingredients including fruits, coconut, almonds and


Hornear To bake in an oven.

Horno Oven

Huachinango Red Snapper

Huauhtli Nahuatl word for Amaranth

Huauzontle Chenopodium nuttalias. Sometimes spelled Guausoncle. . A plant related to epazote whose leaves are coated with batter and fried.

Huesos Bones

Huevo Egg. Careful, this is also a slang word for testical. A safer word to use is Blanquillo, although it is little used in Mexico.

Huitlacoche See Cuitlacoche

Jaiba Crab

Jalea Jelly or marmalade

Jamoncillo Confection or candy made from sugar and milk or from fruits and pumpkin seeds.

Jarabe Syrup

Jarra Pitcher

Jengibre Ginger

J�cama Pachyrrhizus erous. An edible root with much the texture and taste of a cross between an apple and water chestnut.

Jitomate Tomato. Also called "tomate."

Jugo Juice

Jumil An insect that is eaten both alive and dried. A specialty of Taxco.

Langosta Lobster

Lata Can

Leche Milk

Leche quemada Literally "burned milk, another term for cajeta.

Lechuga Lettuce

Lenguado Flounder

Legumbre Vegetable

Lenteja Lentil

Licor Liquor

Licuadora Blender

Liebre Hare

Lima agria The sour lime found in Yucatan and used in the area's cuisine.

Lim�n Lime

Limonada Limeade

Lomo Loin

Longaniza A sausage flavored with chiles and other spices.

Machacar To grind or crush.

Maguey Agave

Mantequilla Butter

Ma�z Corn in its dried state (as opposed to elote which refers to fresh corn).

Mamey Pouteria sapota. Tree and the edible fruit it bears which is peach colored and almost too sweet to some tastes. A favorite ingredient in ice cream.

Mango Mango

Manitas Pigs feet

Manteca Lard

Manjar A delicious dish or delicacy

Manzana Apple

Mariscos Seafood

Marquesote A sweet bread or tort usually made with wheat, rice or corn flour and eggs.

Masa Dough of ground nixtamal from which tortillas are made.

Mejorana Marjoram

Melaza Molasses

Melon Melon

Membrillo Quince

Menudo Soup or stew made with tripe and flavored with chiles. A specialty of northern Mexico, that is considered a cure for hangovers.

Menudencias Giblets

Meocuil White and most popular (from a culinary standpoint) maguey worm.

Merienda A light meal or snack taken either between the comida and the cena.  Similar to an English high tea.

Mermelada Marmalade

Mero Grouper

Metate The three-legged, flat, stone implement used for grinding corn, chiles and spices.

Mezcal Distilled liquor made from the juice of various agaves, often roasted over open fires giving it a smokey taste.

Mezclar To mix.

Miel Honey

Milanesa A breaded, fried cutlet of veal, beef or pork.

Milpa Cornfield. Often beans, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes and chiles, the most important elements in Mexican cooking, grow amongst the corn.

Miltomate tomate de milpa, or fresadilla Tomatillo

Mixiote Thin parchment-like membrane of the maguey, or the dish made by wrapping meats and vegetables in it much the way we use parchment paper, and cooking them in a steamer of barbacoa pit.

Mojo de ajo Garlic sauce

Molcajete Stone mortar used principally to prepare sauces

Molde Mold

Molde para pastel Cake pan

Mole From the Nahuatl word molli, or sauce. Now refers to traditional stews which are thickened by their own ingredients including chiles, nuts, fruit and seeds.

Moler To grind

Molotes See Antojitos.

Molletes Bolillo or small French rolls cut in half and buttered and toasted, or covered with refried beans and cheese and heated. A popular breakfast item.

Molido Ground

Molusca bivalvo Scallops

Morcilla Meat, often entrails, cooked in blood or stuffed into intestines and grilled or broiled.

Mostaza Mustard

Muslo Thigh

Naranja Orange

Nata Skin or cream. The top skimmed off milk or cream.

Natillas Custard

Nixtamal Dried corn which has been heated and soaked in an alkaline solution to loosen the skin, and to facilitate the release of vital nutrients.

Nogada A sauce made from peeled, ground nuts, as in chiles en nogada.

Nopal The typical Mexican edible cactus, either the whole plant or the leaf. Called nopalitos when the leaves are chopped into small pieces. Considered an aid to lowering cholesterol.

Nuez Literally nut. In the north it usually refers to pecans

Nuez moscada Nutmeg

Olla Pot

Olla Expr�s Pressure cooker

Olla podrida A stew of meats and vegetables

Or�gano Oregano

Osti�n Oyster

Ostioner�a Small cafe specializing in seafood

Palomitas Popcorn

Pambazo See Antojitos.

P�mpano Pompano

Pan Bread

Pan dulce Sweet bread.

Panela Unrefined sugar, usually sold molded into small, hard cones. See also panocha and piloncillo.

Panocha Unrefined sugar, sugar, usually sold in small, very hard cones.(Be careful as panocha is also a slang word meaning vagina) See also panela and piloncillo.

Panuchos See antojitos

Papa Potato. Pap� means father, so be careful of the pronunciation.

Papas fritas French frys (Also called papas francesas)

Papadzules See Antojitos.

Papaya Papaya

Papel de aluminio Aluminum foil

Papel encerado Wax paper

Parrilla A grill, such as a barbecue grill.

Pastel Cake

Pato Duck

Pavera Roasting pan.

Pavo Turkey (see also guajolote).

Pay Pie

Pechuga Breast as in chicken breast: pechuga de pollo.

Pejelagarto Lepidoseus viridis. A type of alligator gar eaten in Tabasco.

Pelar To peel.

Pelador Vegetable peeler.

Pellizcada See antojitos

Peneques See antojitos

Pepino Cucumber

Pepita Pumpkin or squash seed.

Perejil Parsley

Pescado Fish

Pibil Word for the barbacoa pit used in the Yucatan.

Picada See Antojitos.

Picadillo Filling made of ground meat.

Picante Hot as in chile hot.

Pierna Leg

Piloncillo Unrefined cane sugar, usually found in small hard cones. See also

panela and panocha.

Pimienta de jamaica or dulce Allspice

Pimienta negra Black pepper

Piment�n dulce Paprika

Pi�a Pineapple

Pi�on Pine nut

Pinole Flour made from roasted, dried corn. Used to make a drink flavored with sugar, cinnamon and anis, and sometimes sugar.

Pipi�n A stew that is similar to the moles, usually containing ground squash seeds and nuts.

Pitahaya Hylocereus undatus. A tropical plant with beautiful flowers and tasty fruit.

Pitaya Stenocereus stellatus. Fruit from a type of prickly pear cactus, from which the juice is made into an alcoholic beverage.

Pierna Leg, as in leg of lamb

Pizca A "pinch" of an herb or seasoning

Plancha Griddle

Pl�tano Plantain or banana. (In some places Plat�no macho refers to the plantain and plat�no tabasco to the banana).

Platillo Literally, small plate, but also refers to the main dish or entree plate.

Plato Plate

Plat�n Platter

Pollo Chicken

Ponche Punch, made with liquor such as brandy or rum and fruit, and usually

served hot. Especially popular at Christmas time.

Postre Dessert

Pozole Soup made with meat (usually pork) and nixtamalized corn kernals

called cacahuazintle, and flavored with chile. A speciality of Jalisco.

There is also a wheat pozole common to the state of Sonora.

Puchero A large dish, or stew.

Puerro Leek

Pulpo Octopus

Pulque Mildly alcoholic drink made by fermenting aguamiel (the juice of the maguey plant).

Quelite Generic name for edible, wild plants, used much the way we use theterm "greens."

Quemador Stove burner.

Quesadillas Se antojitos.

Queso Cheese

Queso a�ejo A hard, aged cheese that when coated with chile is called queso

enchilado. Also called queso cotija.

Queso asadero Stringy cheese with the texture of low fat mozzarella that is made from part fresh milk and part milk that has been allowed to ripen over night.

Queso cotija See queso a�ejo

Queso fresco Literally fresh cheese. A fresh soft cheese, often homemade.

Queso panela A fresh cheese resembling feta.

R�bano Raddish

Rajas Slices of skinned poblano chiles that are fried, sometimes with onions, and served with broiled meats.

Rallar To grate.

Raspada Shaved ice flavored with syrup.

Recado or recaudo Yucatan style seasoning pastes that are usually smeared on meats, poultry and fish prior to cooking. They are made by grinding together ingredients like annato seeds, garlic, and chiles. Similar to achiote.

Refresco Soft drink.

Refrigerador Refrigerator

Rejilla Grate, or grill.

Relleno Filling

Remojar To soak

Repollo Cabbage. See also col.

Reposteria Confectionary. The art of making desserts and pastries.

Requeson Curd Cheese, similar to

Res Beef (as in carne de res)

Recipiente hondo Bowl

Ri�on Kidney

Robalo Snook

Romeritos Suaeda torreyana. A wild vegetable that looks much like rosemary, that is often mixed with mole sauce and shrimp and served during Lent.

Romero Rosemary

Rompope Mexican style eggnog.

Ropa Vieja Literally "old clothes." Refers to a stew made with shredded meat.

S�bana Literally "sheet." Tenderloin steak pounded paper thin and briefly seared on a comal or parilla before being served, often with a sauce and melted cheese.

Salbutes See Antojitos.

Salchicha Sausage

Salm�n Salmon

Salpic�n Mixture of finely chopped or shredded ingredients.

Salpimentar or Salpimeinta To season with salt and pepper.

Salsa Sauce

Salsa Mexicana Literally "rooster's beak." Uncooked relish made with diced tomato, onion and fresh chile. Usually called pico de gallo, in northern Mexico.

Salsera Sauceboat

Salvia Sage

Sand�a Watermelon

Sangria Drink of Spanish origin made with fruit juice, fruit and wine, rum or brandy.

Sangrita A combination of orange juice, grenadine, chile and sometimes tomato juice that is the favorite accompaniment to tequila in Mexico.

Sart�n Skillet

Sazonar To season

Seco Dry

Servilleta Napkin

Sesos Brains

Sierra Mackerel

Sopa Soup. The word caldo, (broth) is often used.

Sopa seca Literally "dry soup." Includes rice and pasta dishes

Sopera Soup bowl

Sopes See Antojitos.

Taco (and types of tacos) See Antojitos.

Tamales See Antojitos.

Tamarindo Tamarind

Tapa Lid or top.

Tapar To cover.

Tasajo Thinly sliced, dried or partially dried beef or pork that is often flavored with chile. Also called cecina.

Taza Cup

Te or th� Tea

Tejocote A tree which produces a fruit resembling a crab apple. Used in syrups and punches.

Tejolote The pestle used with a molcajete

Telera A type of wheat-flour roll usually used to make tortas (Mexican style sandwiches). It is oval in shape and has two ridges lengthwise along the top, giving it the appearance of a trilobite.

Tenedor Fork

Tepache An alcoholic beverage made from pineapple and sugar, or cane juice and other juices.

Tepescuinte Sometimes called tepescuintle The paca, a small, plump rodent found more often in South America than Mexico.

Tequesquite Rock salt

Tequila Liquor distilled from the juice of the blue tequila agave.

Tesg�ino Beer made from corn, principally by the Tarahumara Indians who live in the high mountains of Chihuahua.

Tibur�n Shark (see also caz�n)

Tocino Bacon

Tomate de milpa Tomatillo. Sometimes refers to the wild tomatillo.

Tomatillo Tomatillo. Also called tomate de milpa, tomate verde and


Tomillo Thyme

Toronja Grapefruit

Torta Literally a pie or tort but also refers to a Mexican style sandwich (torta mexicana) usually made by removing most of the crumbs from both sides of a split telera or bolillo, then filling it with everything from various meats and cheeses to a tamal. See antojitos.

Tortilla Flat, thin bread made from nixtamalized corn. The most important aspect of Mexican cooking.

Tortuga Turtle

Tostada See antojitos

Tostar To toast

Totoaba A now endangered fish with delicately flavored flesh found in the Sea of Cort�s.

Totopos In most of Mexico totopos is the word used to describe the fried tortilla chips served as appetizers and snacks. However, in the state of Oaxaca totopos refer to very large corn tortillas that are often cooked until quite hard.

Trigo Wheat

Tripas Tripe

Trucha Trout

Tuba Alcoholic beverage made from fermented palm juice.

Tuna The fruit of the nopal cactus.

Uchepos A tamal that is aspecialty of Michoc�n, made from fresh rather than

dried corn.

Uva Grape

Uva pasa Raisin

Vainas de vainilla Vanilla beans

Vainilla Vanilla

Vasija Vessel or container

Vaso A drinking glass

Venado Deer

Verdolaga Purslane

Verdura Vegetable

Vinagre Vinegar

Vino Wine

Xnipec A chile sauce or relish common in the Yucatan whose name means literally, "dog's nose."

Xoconostle A type of cactus tuna.

Yerbabuena See hierbabuena.

Yuca Yucca

 Zacahuil A gigantic tamal, often filled with a suckling pig or whole turkeys, and cooked in a pit. Found mostly along the Gulf Coast in Tamaulipas, San Luis Potos� and Veracruz.

Zapote Trees which produce tropical fruits including the zapote prieto and

zapote blanco. The former is quite good and the latter somwhat sour.

Zanahoria Carrot

Zumo Juice. The word jugo is more common in Mexico. In Mexico zumo often refers to the oil of an orange peel

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