Despite its milk-like appearance, horchata is produced from nuts, most notably dried and sweetened tiger nuts. Its name comes from the Latin ‘Hordeata,’ which in turn comes from ‘Hordeum,’ a term related to a Mediterranean tradition of grain-based beverages — that’s right, horchata is a plant-milk beverage. The most well-known version of this delicious drink got famous in Valencia, where it was officially known as horchata de chufa.
However, as more and more cultures came to embrace the beverage, they began formulating their own recipes: horchata de arroz is most popular in Mexico and Guatemala; horchata de ajonjolí which utilizes sesame seeds is favored in Puerto Rico; semilla de jicaro uses jicaro seeds and is consumed in Central American nations.
Though mainly associated with Hispanic and Latinx cultures, the famous drink actually began in Africa. Kunnu aya spread to Iberia (now Spain) with the Muslim conquest, way back in 1000CE.
From Valencia, kunnu aya transformed into horchata de chufu and made its way over to the New World. There, drinks called agua de horchata and the much simpler horchata came to be associated with white rice and cinnamon or Canella rather than tiger nuts. Occasionally, vanilla or fruit would be added as extra ingredients. This is what the modern world knows and understands horchata to be.
The history of horchata highlights how food can integrate and become a vital part of a culture’s identity. Whether you like Americanized Mexican food (like Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex), or prefer truly authentic Mexican cuisine, odds are you’ll be able to enjoy your dinner with a delicious glass of horchata.
Of course, you can buy horchata concentrate and it’s super easy to use but it doesn’t compare to the real stuff. We’ll show you how to make traditional horchata from scratch using rice, not rice flour. Sweetened condensed milk gives it its refreshing sweet taste.
Where to Find Horchata in Dallas
3 Nations Brewing: Lady Luck Horchata beer is incredibly good. As one who does not generally appreciate flavored beer, I can definitely endorse this brew.
Taqueria la Ventana: Agua fresca, tacos, elotes and horchata. A can’t miss on a hot day. Multiple locations.
Tacodeli: Austin is known for tacos and bbq, and you may enjoy the former at various locations in Dallas along with a creamy and cold horchata.
How to make authentic Horchata, Mexico’s famous cinnamon-infused rice water drink. It’s mild slightly sweet cinnamon infused flavor complements spicy Mexican food. It’s one of many delicious aguas frescas prepared in Mexican homes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Servings6 10 oz. cups
1.5 cups rice
1 can 14oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
5 cups hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp.ground cinnamon add to taste
In a mixing bowl, add the rice, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon sticks.
Pour hot water into mixture and stir until the sweetened condensed milk dissolves.
Allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then refrigerate the mixture for a minimum of 2 hours. Refrigerate up 12 12 hours for a more concentrated flavor.
Uncover the mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard.
Strain the mixture to separate the rice. Reserve the liquid.
Add the rice and 1.5 cups of the strained liquid to your blender. Blend for 3 minutes until the rice is liquefied.
Strain the blended rice back into the reserved liquid. Blend the horchata mixture again if the mixture is gritty.
Serve over ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
For a less sweet drink, reduce the sweetened condensed milk by half.
For a dairy-free horchata, substitute 1 cup of unsweetened, unflavored almond milk for the whole milk.
If it is too thick, add 1 cup cold water and stir well.
Horchata will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator.