It's IMBB day again and this time out Chez Pim is hosting a festival of rice.
This is the first IMBB? that has featured an ingredient and not a type of dish. Of course, I couldn't make a simple risotto or paella or pilaf, or even rice pudding. Instead, I decided to make Mexican horchata de arroz (hence the stunning visual).
Horchata is a drink found in Spain and Mexico that is perfect for spicy foods. Bite into a hot pepper, drink a beer, and your mouth will still be burning. Drink some milk or horchata (aka rice water) and the pain will subside rapidly.
Some horchata recipes call for almonds or milk or condensed milk. Spanish horchata is not made from rice, but from chufa, the roots of a plant originally found in North Africa and imported to Valecia with the Moors.
I found a charming story of the origins of the name here, which I quote below:
...(T)here's an old story about a girl in a little town that offered some of the drink to the visiting King of Catalunya and Aragon. After enjoying the drink, the king asked, "Que es aixo?" (What is this?). The girl answered, "Es leche de chufa" (It's chufa milk - which was its original name), to which the King replied, "Aixo no es llet, aixo es OR, XATA!" (This is not milk, this is GOLD, CUTIE). The word "Xata" in Catalan - which the King spoke - is an affectionate nickname for a child.
I don't know how much credence to put in that story, but it doesn't have to be true to be true, if you know what I mean.
In any case, Mexican horchata is more commonly made with rice - and in keeping with the theme of today's IMBB? That's what I present:
Horchata de arroz (Horchata from Rice)
2 cups rice. I used brown rice, you can use white or brown
2½ quarts water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar, or to taste (I like a little less)
1 tablespoon vanilla.
Wash the rice, then soak it in cold water for at least 8 hours.
Drain the rice, and put it in a blender. Have a cup of water from the 2½ quarts standing by.
Blend the rice until it turns into a smooth paste. You may need to add the water to keep the blender from overheating and breaking, flinging parts everywhere and coating the room in a sticky rice gluten muck. Or you might be fine. If you smell smoke, add water to the blender.
Add the rest of the water and the cinnamon stick and put in the fridge for at least two hours.
Strain the mix, first through a standard strainer then through wet cheesecloth. Add the sugar, add the vanilla, stir until sugar dissolves.
Serve cold with spicy food or on its own.
Horchata's popularity gets a boost from the fact that 50+% of Hispanics (and a higher percentage of Asians, African Americans, and Native Americans) are lactose intolerant after weaning according to studies. Horchata's not milk, exactly, but it can serve in its place, sometimes. It certainly is delicious.
UPDATE: And popular. Looks like Josh at The Food Section also made horchata for IMBB using a different method. Compare and contrast (the final drink, not the photography).