Horchata is a creamy, smooth, and sweet drink popular in Spain and Latin America. It is traditionally served cold in a tall glass without ice. Unlike Americans, Europeans are not fond of ice in their drinks. Horchata is usually consumed with a pastry. The origin of the name "horchata" derives from Latin, hordeum meaning barley. It is believed that horchata or a similar drink was first made of barley, one of the oldest cereal grains to be cultivated.
According to my Spanish niece Teresa, horchata is native to Valencia, a province in southern Spain. There it is prepared with tigernut (chufa), a crop of the sedge family. In Latin America, horchata is prepared with different base ingredients, from rice to almonds to barley. It is believed that the Spanish conquistadors were the ones who brought horchata to the New World.
The cultivation of tigernuts dates to 4,000 BC; archaeological remains have been found in Egyptian tombs. Other historical records indicate that tigernuts were also used for medicinal purposes and also as air fresheners in homes to lend a sweet smell not only to the house but also to the clothes.
Although horchata is traditionally served in a tall glass, you might want to add some flair and serve it in a martini glass, perhaps with the rim coated in vanilla sugar. Here's how to add the vanilla sugar to the glass: Take a small wedge of lemon and moisten the rim of the glass. The lemon juice sticks much better than water. Once it's moist, just pour some sugar on a plate and dip the rim.
You can substitute almond milk for cow's milk if you want to make this into a vegan drink.
- 1 1/3 cups uncooked white long grain rice
- 2 tablespoons blanched chopped almonds
- 7 cups water
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Working in batches, pour the rice, almonds, and water into the bowl of a blender. Blend until the rice just begins to break up, about 1 minute. Place in a large container and let the rice and the water stand at room temperature for about 4 hours.
- Strain the rice water through a strainer into a large pitcher and discard the rice. Stir in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar into the rice water. Chill and stir before serving. You can coat the rim of the glass with vanilla sugar (yum) or brown sugar.
- For an added flair, you can serve your horchata in a martini glass.
- South American
- 8 servings
- Total Time
- 4 hours