The horchata originally came to Mexico via the Spaniards, who called it Agua— or horchata—de chufa and made it with tiger nuts. The tiger nut is not found in Mexico, but this recipe, shared with us by Fany Gerson, comes close to the original taste. Refreshing and not-too-sweet, this drink is surprisingly versatile.
- 1⁄3 cup long grain rice
- 1 (1-inch) piece Mexican cinnamon
- 2 (1-inch) strips lime or lemon zest plus grated lime zest, for garnish
- 1 cup whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
ut the rice in a blender or spice grinder and process until it's completely pulverized, with a flourlike texture. Transfer into a large container and add the cinnamon, lime zest, and almonds. Stir in 2 cups water, cover, and let sit overnight.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until as smooth as possible. Add 2 more cups of water, mix, and strain into a pitcher through a sieve or colander lined with damp cheesecloth, pouring carefully and slowly and pressing the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. If you have lots of bits remaining in the cheesecloth, blend again with some of the strained liquid, then strain over the damp cheesecloths once again. Stir in the sugar and vanilla, then taste and add more sugar if you like. Serve over ice, garnished with fresh lime zest.