Welcome to the slightly different fruity Friday…It’s Tropical Friday and today it’s the incredible Achiote Seed…also known as annatto…
Native to the Caribbean islands, continental Central America and the western part of South America.
The tree has been introduced to the tropics all over the world; nevertheless, the main producing area is still in South America (Perú, Brazil).
Among the Asian countries, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines have small-scale annatto production; in other tropical countries like here in Thailand, it is mostly planted as an ornamental backyard tree…
Dried annatto seeds have a weak, perfumed odour. In the fresh state, however, their scent is intense and mild–fruity.
When ripe, the fruits split open to reveal several seeds the size of the head of a matchstick and covered with thin, orange-red pulp. Indigenous people in South American countries where the tree originated, such as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, used the dye obtained from the pulp to colour their lips, which gave annatto another name, the lipstick tree.
The dye was also used to cover their bodies, to ward off insects and prevent sunburn.
The seeds can be made into a paste or used as a dye which is obtained by immersing the seeds in warm water for a few minutes then stirred until the water becomes orange-red.
Used in a popular Mexican dish called cochinita pibil a dish that is far from mild or dry. The heat comes in the form of intensely hot condiments on the side, but it has a uniquely sweet, earthy aroma imparted by bitter Seville oranges, achiote, charred garlic, and a host of other spices. That earthiness is backed with the herbaceous aroma of the banana leaves it’s cooked in, along with smokiness from hours of slow cooking in a smoky, steamy píib (or, in modern Mexican Spanish, pib), the Mayan oven consisting of a hole in the ground lined with hot stones.
Although I don’t have a stone oven although I could get hubby to dig a hole in the garden and I’m would love to help he is always digging holes…now that’s a plan…
For now it’s a simple recipe of rice …with achiote.
- 1 cup of uncooked rice
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1medium white onion-chopped
- 2 ripe plum tomatoes-skinned and quartered
- 1 tbsp of tomato puree
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- 1 tbsp of Achiote Powder/paste
- 3/4 tsp of salt
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
Add the garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion just begins to brown.
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, Achiote paste/powder and salt, lower heat and cover.
Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
My paste came from Amazon however if you can obtain the seeds then you can make your own paste
It is a simple recipe with a mix of popular spices which you will have in your cupboard achiote(annatto), oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic, and salt. just bound together with bitter Seville orange juice…
The tree also has medicinal uses. Leaves oiled and placed on the forehead relieve headaches, and a paste made from mixing dye from seeds and oil heals blisters and burns. Drinking a decoction of the leaves alone alleviate throat inflammation, pleurisy and asthma. Gargling with a decoction of leaves can also help a sore throat.
Thank you for joining me today I hope you have enjoyed learning about the Achiote Seed or maybe you are familiar with it and cook with it already.
Until tomorrow when I will be back with Saturday Snippets …x