The Spanish name of this spice mix is relajo salvadoreño. According to cook and food historian Maricel Presilla, author of the book The Food of Latin America – Gran Cocina Latina, in El Salvador, relajo is a spice mix used to season tamales and turkey.
Salvadorians usually buy relajo at the market as a made-to-order mixture of whole dried spices, and take it home to toast and grind as needed. With today's recipe, which I found in Maricel's book, you prepare your relajo buy roasting the ingredients, then chop and grind them, and storage it in an airtight jar for up to one year. Keep reading for the full recipe.
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Salvadorian spice mix
Makes 1/2 cup
1 guaque chile, or dried guajillo chile, stemmed and seeded
1 ciruela chile or ancho chile stemmed and seeded
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of hulled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoon of dried oregano or marjoram
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of ground achiote
- Heat a comal, griddle or heavy skillet.
- Place the chiles in the comal and roast for 2-3 minutes, turning once or twice. Set aside.
- Roast the peppercorns, cloves and bay leave for 1 minute, stirring. Set aside.
- Roast the sesame seeds, pumpkin and peanuts for 2 minutes, stirring. Let cool down.
- With a sharp knife chop the chiles as fine as possible.
- Crumble the bay leave.
- Combine all roasted ingredients with the oregano, thyme and achiote, and grind them to a powder with a spice mill, of mini food processor.