Horchata is that white milky-looking drink you see in large bee-hive glass jars at taquerías or sold by street vendors. It’s the perfect summertime refreshment.
There are many variations of horchata. In Spain, horchata is made with chufa (tigernut). In Mexico, horchata is made with rice.
Once you have the base for this thirst quenching (dairy-free) drink, you can experiment with the addition of more or less sugar. Since it does not contain milk, it will not spoil as easily as a dairy-containing beverage.
Recently, after talking to my niece, Georgina she had a recipe she was willing to share. It was wonderful as-is, but instead of using granulated sugar I decided to use a thin simple syrup mixture. Pulverizing the rice eliminated the chalky sediment and gritty taste. Grinding the rice also helps open up the flavors as well as thicken the drink.
Agua de Horchata (Rice and Cinnamon Drink)
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, ground
6 cups hot water
2 cloves, whole
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups simple syrup (see below)
Thin Simple Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Over low heat allow the sugar to melt, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.
In a food processor or coffee grinder, pulverize the rice so it is the consistency of ground coffee.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat; add rice, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Cover and let soak for eight hours or overnight at room temperature.
After soaking, break the cinnamon stick in half, and place the water, rice, broken cinnamon stick, and cloves in a blender. Puree for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the liquid through a fine strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, into a pitcher. Squeeze the excess liquid and discard the solids.
Stir in the vanilla and 2 cups of the thin simple syrup.
Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Stir before pouring and serve over ice.
Photography by Jeanine Thurston