If you haven’t had the pleasure, horchata is a refreshing milky beverage typically made from rice and/or almonds and spiced with cinnamon. In Mexico is one of the standard beverages offered as agua fresca – or fresh water – to accompany a meal in a restaurant or home. Sometimes called agua de horchata, it balances the spiciness of Mexican food and is often the most popular selection.
Originally from Valencia, Spain where it was made from ground tiger nut, the drink has been adapted all over Latin America to fit the ingredients and tastes of the region. It can be made from toasted rice, or almonds, creamy with cow’s milk, sweetened with sugar and vanilla or with nuts and cut fruit added to the glass. In Oaxaca you can enjoy horchata with tuna – which, contrary to the seemingly easy translation is not a saltwater fish but the sweet fruit of the prickly pear cactus.
This recipe is a classic Mexican horchata made from rice and almonds. If you are looking for something a bit different, check out our Watermelon-Mint Agua Fresca recipe because it’s still melon season!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED (makes about 4 servings)
1/2 cup white rice
1 cup almonds
3 cinnamon sticks
ground cinnamon (to taste)
1/3 cup sugar
5 cups water (3 cups hot, 2 cups cold)
HOW TO MAKE IT
Pulverize the rice in a blender until powdery and then mix with 3 cups boiling water in a large jar or bowl and stir.
Blanch almonds by soaking in boiling water, followed by cold, and then slip off the skins and discard. Add the almonds to the mixture along with the cinnamon sticks. Cover the container and leave out overnight but do not refrigerate.
The next day, add 2 cups of cold water to the batch and strain it using cheese cloth, stopping regularly to discard the gunk from the cloth and rinse it out.
Make simple syrup by mixing the sugar with some hot water until it dissolves and add to mixture. Transfer to a blender and … blend!
Mix in additional powdered cinnamon to taste. Chill. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!
*For a Friday night twist on the the beverage, we added coconut rum … YUM!