I’ve lived a lot of places but grew up mostly in Phoenix. Phoenix is a very interesting place. The things I love about it are pretty much what most tourists would find really stupid, or just plain odd. Since my whole family still lives there (How can they possibly still live there? It’s so hot!!) I go and visit about once a year.
When I’m there, I eat. It doesn’t matter what time of day I arrive, or even if we are about to eat a sensible dinner, I will go to the taqueria near my parents’ house and eat. And get a large horchata, with extra ice.
Horchata is amazing stuff. Really and truly, it is so good. When it’s over 100 degrees (like it often is in Phoenix) you need a cold, refreshing beverage. I’m not really into soda very much (although because of our Midwestern roots we call that “pop” in our household), but horchata is perfect because it’s really light, and not too sweet. Oh, and you usually get it from those weird beverage machines that you can find at old-school mini marts and odd fast food joints. You know, the ones with the full tanks of rotating liquid? It seems questionable, but just go with it.
When I came home I decided I finally needed to figure out how to make it for myself. So I looked it up online and it was about as helpful as searching “homemade bread” or “recipe for chicken soup.” Everyone and their mother has a recipe online. Some are made with cow milk, others with non-dairy milks; some have blanched almonds, others have lime zest; some agave and some regular sugar; various recipes call for different types of rice as well.
The bottom line is you need rice and cinnamon sticks. Those two things are an absolute must.
After trying one recipe online without much success (it called for too much water, and the result was too bland), I emailed my friend Xenia, and she delivered. Here is her recipe:
RECIPE: XENIA’s HORCHATA
“I am a guesstimator with the majority of the recipes we make so feel free to mess with the measurements since these are only assumptions on the amounts I use.”-Xenia
- 1 to 1 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
- 4 ½ to 5 cups of water
- 1 cup of milk
- An over flown ½ tablespoon of vanilla
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- ½ to 2/3 cup sugar
- Blend the uncooked rice with the cinnamon and a few cups of the water. Once everything is kind of ground up you can add the rest of the water. Let it sit for 2-4 hours. I leave it on the counter.
- Blend again and strain, or you can just strain. I have done it both ways.
- Throw in the rest of the ingredients and stir with a ton of ice.
- Bam! You got yourself horchata.
If you want you can put some freshly grated cinnamon on top before serving. You could probably also turn this into a cocktail, but I like it just as it is. Feel free to mess around with it to suit your needs in case you can’t have dairy, or processed sugar. Feel free to play around with types of rice as well.