From Too Many Chefs -

May 23, 2004
Drink Your Rice

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).

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at May 23, 2004 1:00 AM | TrackBack

The Straight Dope did a column a while back on why water does not soothe your mouth after spicy foods and milk does ( Did you make anything spicy to go with it?

Posted by Meg in Paris on May 24, 2004 at 5:22 AM

Barrett, thanks for the informaticve explaination of the difference between Sapnish and Mexican Horchata. I liked the Spanish one, now I absolutely must try this one out.

Posted by Alberto on May 24, 2004 at 5:42 AM

I'm trying this soon : )

Posted by Renee on May 24, 2004 at 9:32 AM

The horchata came to my rescue when I sampled a pepper to show that really, it wasn't so hot. Boy was I wrong. If the horchata wasn't there, I'd still have smoke coming out of my ears.

Alberto, Thanks for coming up with this IMBB? concept. I look forward to the event every month. I really like the fact it's cooperative without being competitive.

Renee, I'd never tried this before and it turned out great. The particles do fall out of suspension pretty quickly in the fridge, so I give the pitcher a quick stir before serving. One other tip - strain, strain, strain. The more gunk you get out the less "chalky" it will taste.

Posted by Barrett on May 24, 2004 at 4:10 PM

I'm shocked that there were two horchata recipes in the bunch! FYI, in the recipe I used, the mixture was very easy to blend since the rice has already been ground (and there's a substantial amount of water combined with the mixture).

Posted by Josh on May 24, 2004 at 6:39 PM

Josh - I laughed when I saw your recipe. I was so SURE I'd figured out the "weird" dish that no one else would have come up with. And the fact your photography was better didn't help, I'll have you know.

I guess you should never underestimate the creativity of the food blogging community...

Posted by Barrett on May 24, 2004 at 10:40 PM

This recipe is great. But, to make things esier try grinding the rice first. After the rice is ground up, add the water.

Posted by Ian on August 2, 2004 at 9:12 PM

thanks for the recipe. None of the mexican restaurants here in seattle serve horchata. They should be ashamed.

Posted by jocelyn on February 9, 2005 at 10:08 PM

This is a great taste i tried at a sunny day pavillion on the spanish coast made of tiger nuts. The relaxing gave my sore feet many troubleless minutes.

Posted by k simpson on February 25, 2005 at 4:14 PM

Thanks man....I used this for a special treat in my 9th grade spanish class and it ran out fast! I had made 12 quarts of it too.

Posted by Adam on March 22, 2005 at 3:38 PM

you should put the nutrition facts because it is a law to have them on every produte. Thank You!!

Posted by Jordyn on May 3, 2005 at 8:44 PM

when you blend the rice use two cups of water. blend it on high for about 3-4 minutes. this worked well for me.


Posted by jay on June 11, 2005 at 2:20 PM

This was realy good my boyfriend realy liked this drink u should try it whith vodka

Posted by south sider 13 on August 25, 2005 at 1:27 PM

my ruca realy liked the drink thanks alot for the recipie ESE!!!!!!!!

Posted by Sureno 13 on August 25, 2005 at 1:30 PM

To make ur horchata have a better taste add little pieces of lime piel but make sure they are tiny. It is delicious that makes it different from all the other horchatas at least thats how we drink it in HONDURAS.

Posted by liz on October 12, 2005 at 1:56 PM

FYI certain BP Wild Bean gas station stores are selling horchata HOT in the latte section and it is certainly NECTAR of the GODS (comes out with the foam!) and a great substitute for coffee or hot chocolate when needing
some pick me up and can't have caffene.

Posted by Linda on February 18, 2006 at 6:19 PM

I tried this drink for the first time yesterday at a Tex-Mex Restaurant in Maryland and it made me sick to my stomach. I just wanted to try something different and got this drink and I wish I hadn't. I was up all night long with an upset stomach. Has anyone else experienced this reaction or am I the only one?

Posted by Nikki on May 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM

Nikki, I' sorry you had a bad horchata experience. I've never heard of people getting upset stomachs with horchata.

Are you sure it was the drink and not the food? I'd be more inclined to believe you got a bad piece of chicken or beef in your food than that the orchata was no good.

But then again, everyone's tolerance for foods is different. You may have a sensitivity to something in the horchata you had.

Posted by barrett on May 22, 2006 at 1:49 PM

horchata also can be made with ground pumpkin seed, gourd seed, sesame seed, peanuts.

Posted by armida on June 9, 2006 at 2:06 PM

I made the drink, and it came out good but i didnt get a stronge flavor i added more sugar and that made it sweeter but what should i do to make it more of that mint flavor.. also i had rice bits in it everywhere, am i doing something wrong?

Posted by Devoe on June 12, 2006 at 3:03 AM

I made the drink, and it came out good but i didnt get a stronge flavor i added more sugar and that made it sweeter but what should i do to make it more of that mint flavor.. also i had rice bits in it everywhere, am i doing something wrong?

Posted by devoe on June 12, 2006 at 3:05 AM

Horchata is definitely making inroads to the gas station latte cart, check out my blog post on that subject:

Posted by Blog Utopia Dot Net on December 16, 2010 at 4:12 PM