Saturday, April 10, 2010


A quick google search will lead you to discover that horchata has Moorish origins. The Moors gave it to the Spaniards, who gave it to the Aztecs; and now, you can enjoy this agua fresca at authentic Mexican restaurants.

But I'll be honest, it was not a genuine quest for food knowledge that allowed me to stumble upon this refreshing treat. I was inspired to look up the recipe because of a song -- a song entitled "Horchata," which was written by a band that I had the very great pleasure of seeing last night at the House of Blues here in New Orleans. The band is called Vampire Weekend, but don't be misled by the name. There is nothing gothic, heavy metal, or the like about this band. I can definitely hear some Paul Simon influence in their music, and they are more likely to sport a bow tie and sweater vest than a grungy t-shirt and black nail polish.

Now for the recipe, I looked up several with slight variations in them. Some recipes called for the use of milk; but, as the beverage is traditionally lactose-free, I skipped the milk. I like the consistency of the beverage as it is, and it has a rather milky appearance and texture without the addition of milk. Here's what I put together:

1/3 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup white long-grain rice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups hot water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold water

In your blender, grind rice and almonds to as fine a texture as possible. Add cinnamon, and pulse to mix. Add 3 cups hot water and let stand at room temperature for at least 3 to 4 hours. (Some recipes suggest letting it soak overnight.) During this time, I occasionally gave the blender a little pulse to keep everything mixed up. After sitting for the appointed time, pour the mixture through a strainer, catching all the liquid in a large bowl or pitcher. Then, stir in sugar and cold water. Chill in the refrigerator. Then, serve in glasses over ice.

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