Roucou / Mexico
The seeds of a tropical tree (bixa orellana) native to the Americas and brought, like many other good things, to South East Asia by the Spaniards. Also called achiote and achuete, it colours foods a brilliant orange and imparts a pleasantly bitter, astringent, Campari-like flavour. In the Yucatan it is combined with bitter orange, cumin, Mexican oregano, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, chilis, onion, garlic and salt to make recado rojo, a spectacular seasoning paste for meat and poultry. Soak seeds in a little hot water to soften before grinding or simmer in oil to leach out the colour before discarding the seeds.