Mexican-Thai Fusion Horchata
Horchata refers to any number of nondairy milks made in parts of both Europe and Africa, as well as in the Americas. This horchata recipe is based on a Yucatán style with blended rice and almonds, with an optional Southeast Asian pandan element and/or the addition of a type of sweet fermented rice found across East Asia. This doesn't keep for long (somewhere between 2-4 days in the fridge) so drink up!
Servings: 950 millilitres
- 85 grams long grain white rice ½ cup
- 2-3 inch long pieces cinnamon stick
- 50 grams whole almonds ⅓ cup
- 1 litre water
- 110 grams white sugar slightly rounded ½ cup (more if you like it very sweet, less if you don't)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract optional
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 4-6 pandan leaves cut into 1 inch pieces
- Khao mak ข้าวหมาก or laozao optional
Toast the rice and cinnamon stick together in a dry pan until the rice is golden and emits a nutty aroma1. Tip into a large bowl, along with the almonds and water. Cover with a plate or towel and leave to soak overnight.
The next morning, tip all of the contents of the bowl into a blender jug. Unless you have a powerful vortex blender such as a Vitamix, remove the cinnamon first. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, optional almond extract, and salt. Blend on high speed until the rice and almonds have broken down as finely as possible and the sugar has dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired.
Strain using either a very fine mesh or a muslin cloth. To avoid wasting the pulp, see my notes for how you can use it2.
Store in the fridge. Horchata is best served ice cold, so to serve just fill a glass with ice and then pour horchata to the brim.
Make the recipe as above, but remove the cinnamon before blending. You can also omit the vanilla and almond extract if you’d like (it’s good either way).
Once the horchata is strained, add around 250 millilitres (1 cup) of the liquid back to the blender, along with 4-6 pandan leaves that have been cut into 1 ½ centimetre (½ inch) pieces. Blend on high speed until the leaves break up as finely as possible and the horchata turns green.
Use muslin to strain this liquid back into the rest of the horchata. Discard the pandan leaf pulp.
- Toasting the rice and cinnamon is optional, but adds an additional nutty layer to the horchata.
- There is no need to waste the rice and almond pulp. You can make a congee like porridge or a thicker dessert by cooking the sediment with non dairy milk (the amount depends on the consistency you’d like) of your choice. I pop it all in my Instant Pot and pressure cook it for 10 minutes, and then serve with chunks of jaggery or piloncillo/panela (unprocessed cane sugar) and soy cream. Just be careful of any chunks of cinnamon that may not have broken down finely when blending. I have also had success baking the pulp into sourdough and/or yeasted pita breads.