Horchata?? Qu'est que le ?
I recently emailed a supplier of a product I really liked, and used in an unusual way (Chai flavoured cheesecake).. He emailed me back to say thanks for the blog link and plug, yada yada... and is sending me a free sample of Horchata.
I've heard you guys talk about it here, but never really paid much attention to it...
What is it??
What do I do with it?
What ELSE can I do with it??
I need an Horchata 101. STAT!!
Or, as mentioned above, with chufas, little underground tubers that taste kind of sweet and nutty. They are sometimes sold vacuum-packed at Whole Foods as 'Tiger Nuts." Caution: do not eat a whole package at one sitting, because they are super high in fiber and could have rather unfortunate gastric consequences. Ahem.
Horchata is a sweet drink. In Mexico, it's usually just blended and strained soaked rice, sugar, and cinnamon. Almonds in place of or along with the rice are a common variation. In Spain, horchata is made with tiger nuts (chufas) instead of rice. They are are available in the U.S., though not widely so.
A powdered mix of of either won't taste as good as homemade, especially since you can't control the sugar. Whether you make or mix it, just drink it very cold.
re: purple goddess
I hope you're getting a Mexican sample and not Spanish. The Spanish version is completely horrid. If you like it even a little bit, track down a recipe and try making it fresh. Cooked rice blended and strained, cinnamon, sugar, and ice. The Mexican street vendors you come back to are the ones who top it with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. Mmmmm.
re: purple goddess
Yeah ... hochata mix ... ick.
Real Mexican horchata ... mmmm.
Here's what seems like a good recipe. You could make your own and then compare it to the mix.
As mentioned, there are lots of regional recipes. Here's Chow's Spanish version using chufa.
Another Spanish version using almonds
Here's a Spanish version using sesame seeds ... Horchata de Ajonjoli ... scroll down ... seems to be a Puerto Rican connection.
A Guatamalan version using Oatmeal
This article says some countries use corn or peanuts.
This Chowhound inquiry references horchata made from seeds
Someone who improvised using Jasmine rice ... looks good
For the plain Mexican version it is about balance ... not too sweet, not too watery, not too much spice. It should be creamy, cold and refreshing. I've never seen it used for anything but a beverage.
Should you try making your own, here's an Chowhound post about a failed attempt so you can avoid the pitfalls. There are a bunch of horchata recipes on the Home Cooking board.
The first recipe linked by rworange sounds good to me. It uses both vanilla and cinnamon while many others cited in this thread use only cinnamon. You really need both for a good Mexican horchata. Balance is important. At lunch I frequently drink horchata in Mexican restaurants in Chicago and have tasted a huge range. One place had a version so thick and loaded with good vanilla that it reminded me of a vanilla milk shake of years gone by.