|Rembrandt's "Boaz Casting Barley into Ruth's Veil," c. 1645|
The drink made its way to Spain. When the Spaniards brought the drink to Mexico, the natives used locally grown rice to make the drink. Horchata is sometimes made with melon or squash seeds as well. The rice, nuts or seeds are ground and mixed with water to make a milky-looking agua de fresca.
Horchata is quite well-suited for extinguishing the occasional fires that are ignited by fiery Mexican food. It is especially complimentary to all types of savory dishes including a local favorite of fresh, hot tacos cloaked in spicy pineapple salsa.
- 1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup sugar (or more to taste)
- 1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
Wash and drain rice. Combine rice with cinnamon sticks in water and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
After the rice has soaked for a minimum of 8 hours, preferably overnight, discard the cinnamon sticks and pour rice, half of the soaking water, sugar and vanilla into a blender while reserving the unused soaking water. Blend rice on low for 3-5 minutes until well blended and finely ground. Pour the blended rice mixture through fine mesh sieve two times, and then through cheesecloth one more time to remove all gritty bits of rice.
Pour the strained rice water mixture into a pitcher adding the reserved soaking water and stir well to combine. Add more sugar if needed, to taste. To serve, pour over ice and garnish with ground cinnamon and a lime wedge, if desired.