Glossary of New Mexican Foods

To help you understand and appreciate New Mexican foods, Public Service Company of New Mexico has compiled the following glossary of food terms:


Chicos --
Dried sweet corn used whole or crushed in a seasoned stew.
Chile Caribe --
Red chile pods blended with water to a puree and seasoned. Used in such dishes as carne adovada.
Chiles, Green --
Found in a variety of sizes, shapes, and piquancies, they are an important part of Southwestern dishes. Before use, the skin is removed. Used in sauces, relishes, stews, and as chile rellenos.
Chiles, Red --
Green chile that has ripened and dried. Usually used ground or crushed for added seasoning or in making a variety of sauces.
Chorizo --
Highly seasoned hog link sausage.
Enchilada Sauce --
Red sauce made of mild to hot chile pulp or chile powder, spices, and beef or pork or both. Used for enchiladas. Also called red chile sauce.
Fresh Masa --
A moist dough of ground, dried corn that has been soaked in limewater, then cooked. Used in tamales.
Frijoles --
Beans. Most commonly used bean is the pinto bean.
Frijoles Refritos --
Refried beans. Pinto beans that have been boiled, mashed, fried in pork fat, and topped with longhorn or jack cheese.
Harina --
All-purpose flour.
Harina Azul --
Blue corn meal flour for tortillas.
Harina Para Atole --
Blue corn meal flour for gruel.
Harina Para Panocha --
Sprout wheat flour for Indian pudding (Panocha).
Masa Harina --
Masa in dehydrated form to which water is added to produce dough similar to fresh masa.
Piloncillo --
Brown, unrefined cane sugar found in cone-shaped pieces used to sweeten coffee and desserts.
Piñon --
Pine nuts, seeds of large pine cones. Used in deserts and breads or roasted and enjoyed as nut meats.
Salsa Jalapeño --
A hot sauce or relish made of Jalapeño chiles, onions, either red or green tomatoes, and seasonings.
Tortillas de Harina --
Flour tortillas made from wheat flour. Ussually are 7 - 10 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. They remain mostly white after cooking on a griddle, but are flecked with brown and puffed in spots. Used for burritos and as an accompaniment to any Southwestern meal.
Tortillas De Mais --
Corn tortillas made from masa pressed into a thin pancake, then quickly singed or "blistered" on a hot griddle. Used for enchiladas, tacos, taquitos, chalupas, huevos rancheros, tostadas compuestas.


Albondigas --
Arroz A La Española --
Spanish rice.
Arroz Con Pollo --
Chicken with rice;.
Burrito --
Flour tortilla filled with refried beans and chile sauce, ground beef and chile sauce, or a combination of both, and rolled.
Caldillo --
Poor man's stew made of ground beef, raw potatoes, and seasonings.
Carne Adovada --
Pork steak marinated in chile sauce, then roasted or pan fried. Usually served with Spanish rice and refried beans.
Carne Asada --
Beef or pork cut in thin diagonal strips and cooked quickly over very hot coals, as in a brasero or Japanese hibachi.
Calupas --
Meaning "little boats," is a fried corn tortilla topped with shredded chicken or beans, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, and salsa.
Chauquehue --
Blue corn meal much thicker than atole. Served with red chile with pork or spareribs in place of potatoes or rice.
Chicharrones --
(Cracklings) Pieces of fat cooked slowly until lard is rendered out. Lightly salted, may be served as a warm or cold hor d'oeuvre.
Chilaquillas --
Called tortilla hash or poor man's dish. Includes leftover tortillas fried until crisp and combined with chile, eggs, jack or sharp cheddar cheese, and red chile sauce.
Chile Con Queso --
Melted cheese dip seasoned with chile and served with tostados.
Chile Rellenos --
Green chiles stuffed with cheese or meat, dipped in a cornmeal batter, and deep-fat fried.
Enchilada --
Rolled or flat corn tortillas topped or stuffed with meat, cheese, onions, and red or green chile sauce.
Flautas --
Meaning "flute," a taco variation; two corn tortillas are overlapped, filled with meat, cheese, onion, and chile, rolled, then
Gazpacho --
A cold vegetable soup with a meat broth or tomato juice base containing a variety of raw vegetables.
Guacamole --
Avacado salad served as a dip or on lettuce as a salad, or ingredient in many other dishes.
Huevos Rancheros --
Served in several ways, but generally is a fried egg on a corn tortilla and topped with a special green chile sauce with onions and tomatoes. Sometimes served with red or green enchilada sauce and garnished with lettuce and cheese.
Jamoncillo --
Cream Candy) Condensed milk used as a spread or ice cream topping.
Menudo --
Tripe and hominy traditionally served on Christmas or New Year's Eve.
Mole --
Sauce made with red chiles, spices, and chocolate and served over meat or poultry. Crushed sesame seed, pumpkin seed, or nuts are often added for flavor and thickening. (sometimes called Pipian.)
Molletes --
Sweet anise seed rolls. Usaully accompanied by Mexican chocolate.
Nachos --
An hors d'oeuvre of tostados topped with jack cheese, sour cream, and jalapeño chile.
Paella --
A classic dish combining rice and a variety of both meat and seafood.
Posole --
Hominy stew made with dried lime-treated corn and combined with pork and seasonings.
Quesadillas --
Made in a number of different ways, buy always with cheese filling. Usually a folded corn tortilla with a chile and jack cheese filling, fried quickly over high heat.
Queso Fresco --
(Native fresh cheese) Made with sweet milk and rennet tablets. It is allowed to set until whey can be separated from the curd. Served with sugar, syrup, or preserves as a dessert.
Sopaipillas --
Puffy, crisp, deep-fried bread. Accompanies many Southwestern meals, or may be stuffed with refritos or meat and topped with chile sauce, cheese, and lettuce.
Taco --
A corn tortilla folded in half and fried until crisp, stuffed with meat, or chicken, or refried beans. Before serving, it is topped with lettuce, onion, cheese, and taco sauce.
Tamale --
Red chile pork encased in fresh masa and wrapped in a corn shuck. Usually steamed and served with red chile sauce.
Taquitos --
(Rolled tacos) Same as tacos except filling is placed inside tortillas and rolled cigar-fashion, then deep-fat fried.
Torta --
Stiffly beaten eggs leavened with baking powder and seasoned with salt and oregano, then deep fried. Served during Lent with chile
or with a chile sauce as a meat substitute.
Tostadas --
Open-faced taco.
Tostadas Compuestas --
Corn tortilla cups filled with chile con carne topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and grated cheese.
Tostados --
Corn tortillas cut in pieces and fried until crisp. Salted or sprinkled with chile powder. Served for dipping with salsa, guacamole, or chile con queso.



Calabaza --
Baked pumpkin.
Garbanzos --
(Chick Peas) Cooked, mashed, and seasoned with salt, onion, red chile pulp, and cilantro.
Jicama --
A large gray-brown root vegetable, delicious raw. Has a white, crisp meat resembling that of a potato or chestnut.
Nopales --
Leaves or pads of prickly pear cactus. Taste and texture resemble green beans. Used alone as a vegetable or in soups, salads, and omelets.
Papas --
Quelites --
Spinach combined with pinto beans, seasoned with bacon and crushed chile pods.
Tuna --
Cactus fruit ranging in color from green to red or maroon. The moist, granular flesh is good served raw as a dessert with lemon and sugar, but is also candied or used in desserts.
Verdolagas --
A common garden weed served as a leafy vegetable. Also called purslane.


Atole --
A gruel-like blue corn-meal drink. Is either served withsugar, scalded milk, or both.
Hot chocolate using Mexican chocolate as a main ingredient and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. Usually served with biscochitos.


Anis -- Anise
Asafran -- Saffron
Chimaja -- Wild celery, root andleaf
Cilantro -- Coriander leaves or crushed seeds
Comino -- Cumin, powder or seeds
Mejorama -- Marjoram
Oregano -- Oregano dried leaves
Romero -- Rosemary
Tomillo -- Thyme
Yerba Buena -- Wild mint, freshor dried

© 1994 Public Service Company of New Mexico.

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Last modified on October 12,1995.