Anatomy of an Enchilada

Posted by Donna Rouviere Anderson |
April 17, 2018

Photos by Forrest Anderson

While working on a Mexican/Southwest chapter for a cookbook on tomatoless cooking that I’m writing for people with tomato allegies, I recently looked through a large stack of Mexican and Southwest cookbooks and wrote down the basic ingredients for most of the recipes in them. I discovered something that can vastly simplify Mexican and Southwest cooking. More than ninety percent of the recipes for a wide variety of dishes use some or all of the following spices:



Chili Powder






Spanish Paprika

I also discovered that most Mexican and Southwest dishes include the following basic categories – spices; sauces of various kinds (the most common have a tomato base, but other bases can be substituted); meat, poultry or fish; vegetables, whether salad greens, vegetables for sauces and salsas or dried beans;  grain, most commonly in the form of tortillas;  and cheese of various kinds.



These categories can be combined and cooked in a variety of ways – grilling, roasting, baking, frying, stewing in a crockpot. Once you understand how to combine these basics in various ways, you can quickly put together a delicious Mexican meal from ingredients you have on hand.

The following recipe can help make that process easier. It is a basic seasoning mix for just about any kind of Mexican or Southwest food. Just mix the ingredients in a jar and add the mixture to taste to meat or sauces  for use in enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, on nachos or in tortilla soup.

Mexican Seasoning Mix

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. dried onion flakes

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. allspice (optional but good in fajitas)


More food photos

Check out these related items

Favorite Sauces for Latin Dishes

Favorite Sauces for Latin Dishes

Some of the best Latin foods can be made with easy commercial or homemade sauces that work in a variety of dishes.

 Fruit Drinks of Mexico and Asia

Fruit Drinks of Mexico and Asia

Delicious fruit drinks are ubiquitous at restaurants and street stands in Mexico, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. You can make them at home with our favorite recipes.

Barbecue Santa Maria Style

Barbecue Santa Maria Style

Santa Maria's scrumptious grilling is California's premier barbecue style.