One of the things I developed a taste for after living in Los Angeles for so long was a nice cooling glass of horchata. This ancient drink made of water, ground nuts, sugar, rice, spices, seeds and what have you stretches throughout the Spanish speaking world. Each country has their own version of this refreshing milky drink, and along with a nice glass of Lychee boba, is one of the two beverages that I can't get here in Sonoma. Okay, I take that back, I can get a very good horchata here given that Sonoma was the capital of Mexico's province of Alta California. As for the boba I'm still working on that one.
The reason I've been fantasizing about horchata all goes back to the case of food poisoning I got last month. I'm pretty much recovered, except for my stomach. I'm still eating a very simple diet which has taken me vegan for the last month. It's pretty easy for me to eat a vegetarian diet as I was a vegetarian for years starting back when I was a teenager. In fact as my relatives reminded me at the family wedding I attended back in July, back in the day, I was the first vegetarian any of them had ever seen. When I first started cooking Indian food 25 years ago it was vegetarian Indian food only. My doctor advised me to introduce new foods slowly, simple things,vegetables and rice etc. Which brings me to horchata. A simple drink made of water, soaked ground rice, and spices. Just what the doctor ordered!
I could have gone over to El Molino Central and just bought some but then I would have been tempted by all the delicious stuff they serve and would probably do something stupid to my stomach that I would regret. I decided to make my own. But rather than leave well enough alone, I wondered if there was an Indian version of horchata our there. Since the spice profiles in Hispanic food and Indian food have a lot of overlap I figured there must be. Sure enough, there was. The most common recipe out there was the one I found on My Recipes and a lot of other sites. It seemed everybody and their uncle had made this Indian flavored horchata, so why not add me to the list?
Horchata With Indian Spices
Here's what You Need:
1 cup of basmati rice
3 and 1/2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods cracked open
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
1/3 cup of sugar
Here"s What To Do:
Scoop 1 cup of clean basmati rice into a food processor.
Grind it up into small bits.
This takes a while.
Pour it into a bowl along with 3 1/2 cups of water and the cinnamon stick and cardamom seeds.
Add in the vanilla and sugar.
Stir everything around until it's well mixed.
Pour it into a container that can be covered.
Pop the top on and stick it into the fridge overnight.
The next day, pour the mixture into a blender. You can do this in two batches.
Grind everything up.
While the mixture is getting ground to bits, place cheese cloth over a bowl and get ready to strain your horchata.
Pour the liquid through the cheese cloth into the bowl.
Squeeze the liquid through the cloth.
Even though the recipe says to filter it though 3 layers of damp cheesecIoth, I actually filtered mine 3 times to insure a nice smooth milky texture.
Third times the charm!
Finally pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
Then pour the strained horchata into a pitcher.
There you have it, a perfectly refreshing drink for a hot August day unpacking moving boxes. Shortly after I made this horchata, I ran across a different recipe for it by Manjula which I can't wait to try. It's weird breaking in my new kitchen with such a simple recipe, but that's the breaks in food poisoning land. Every day I add something new, yesterday it was apples and avocados. Coming up next dal, easy to make easy on the stomach. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori