For the last two weeks, I was so fortunate to travel around Spain with my mom. We traveled all around, visiting Sevilla and Granada in the South, and then traveling up to Barcelona. The trip was incredible, and the food itself did not disappoint either. While I took Spanish all throughout high school, I feel like a lot of the culture we learned about related to Latin and South America, so I was unsure of exactly what Spanish cuisine would be like before I arrived. Turns out, it’s pretty much three things: ham, codfish, and more ham. Though I don’t actually eat ham, we were able to find some other delicious dishes. While in Sevilla, we tasted the Andalusian specialty soups of gazpacho, salmorejo (thick gazpacho) and ajoblanco. Granada, once the capital of the Islamic Empire, still had a prominent and present Islamic influence, so we had a delicious and authentic Moroccan dinner. And in Barcelona, we sampled pintxos, various toppings on little slices of bread – the Basque county form of tapas.
One treat we kept coming back to was horchata. Made famous in the US by the Vampire Weekend song of the same name, this cool drink is popular throughout many Spanish-speaking countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ecuador and Spain. Each country and culture is known for having a slightly different recipe for the creamy drink. In Spain, Horchata is made from a chufa nut, otherwise known as a tiger nut. This type of tuber is nearly impossible to find in the US, so when I decided to make my own horchata, I had to opt for the Mexican variation, which uses rice as a base instead. To make my drink a little creamier, I found a recipe that used both rice and almonds.
This recipe is absolutely delicious, and best served cold over ice. Since I didn’t have access to chufa nuts, this drink doesn’t resemble what I tasted in Spain exactly, though it does come pretty close. I will note that it could have been strained a time or two more, as there was still almond and rice residue at the bottom of my drink. I used a cheesecloth over a strainer, and would high highly recommend doing the same, unless you have a sieve or something with much smaller holes. Enjoy!
From the kitchn
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1″ to 3″ piece of cinnamon stick
- 5 cups water, divided
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Ground cinnamon for garnish
- Soak the rice, almonds and cinnamon. Place the rice and almonds into a bowl. Break up the cinnamon stick into several pieces and add to the rice and almonds. Cover with 4 cups of hot (but not boiling) water. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
- Blend the mixture. Using a stick or regular blender, blend the mixture until it is as smooth as possible. This can take as long as 2 to 3 minutes. (The cinnamon will soften as it sits and does not need to be removed before blending.)
- Strain the mixture. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a pitcher. Strain out as much liquid as possible, pushing on the solids with a spatula or spoon.
- Add condensed milk and vanilla. Stir in the remaining cup of water, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Taste and add more sweetener or water as needed.
- Serve. Add ice to the pitcher, stir again, and serve in glasses, garnished with the ground cinnamon. Enjoy!
Note: The pictures of the horchata were taken by my sister!