Horchata is a drink known around the world, and it has been traveling from culture to culture for the last 4,000 years or so. In Mexico, it is one of a variety of drinks known as aguas frescas. There is a subtle delightfulness to this drink, and if you like the taste, it will keep you coming back for more. It pains me to say that the problem with horchata as it’s classically made is that it’s basically a rice and sugar water blend with plenty of calories and little redeeming nutritional value.
I am going to suggest an alternative recipe for Mexican-style horchata that won’t change the taste much, but will add a little more nutritional oomph (is that really a word?) to each glass. I will maintain the process of making it, right down to straining the blended mixture through cheese cloth. Do you have your cheese cloth ready?
Basmati rice is the lowest rice on the glycemic index, meaning that it won’t be converted to sugar by your body quite as quickly as other varieties of rice. Coconut water is known as a powerful hydrator with more potassium per serving than about 4 bananas. Brazil nuts have a creamy texture, and provide a source of complete non-meat protein. They are high in fats, but good fats that help reduce cholesterol levels. Piloncillo is sugar cane juice that is collected from the cane, boiled and hardened in cone shape molds, and it has been for the last 500 years. It has earthy, caramel notes in its flavor, and is much less expensive to purchase than its cousin sold in health food markets, evaporated cane juice. Just look inside of the bins on the Mexican spice display at your grocery store. Chia seeds have been used by the Aztecs and Maya for years. They are full of fiber and contain antioxidants which help protect the body against aging, free radicals and cancer. Now, I’ve filled your horchata with enough nutrition to beat the hydrating abilities of the best sports drink.
1 cup organic basmati rice
1 cup brazil nuts
1 liter coconut water
1 Mexican cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. genuine vanilla extract
1 cone piloncillo, melted in 1/2 cup water
zest of one lime
1. In a large, airtight container, soak the basmati rice, brazil nuts and cinnamon overnight (or for several hours.) This isn’t really necessary, but it is the traditional way of softening the ingredients. Use regular water to soak the ingredients.
2. Drain the water from the soaked ingredients and add them to the blender. Add the coconut water, vanilla extract and lime zest. Blend until all ingredients are liquefied.
3. Strain your mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Capture the liquid in a bowl or wide-mouthed container. Discard the ingredients left in the sieve.
4. Blend the liquid one more time.
5. Place cheese cloth over the sieve. Pour the blended liquid through the cheese cloth into the bowl or container.
6. Pour the horchata into a pitcher or other dispenser. Chill horchata in the refrigerator. Serve over ice. Garnish with a twist of lime or a strawberry and a dash of cinnamon. Disfruta! ~ Enjoy!
Note: There are many coconut waters available at the grocery store today. One brand, Coco Fresco is made from green coconuts and needs no sugar to taste sweet. You will be able to order it here soon.
Since sweet and cinnamon-y horchata is a kids favorite, why not have your little ones join in the process of making it. I hear kids love watching things strain through a sieve. They’re also pretty good at putting ice in the glasses.