A thick, creamy rice drink, horchata de arroz is one of Mexico's most popular drinks. With a plain starchy flavor, originating from the rice itself, the beverage easily suits a variety of tastes and different ingredients. This can range from alcoholic additions to a simple squeeze of lemon. While long grain rice is typically used to make the drink, parboiled rice can also become the basis for horchata, though it may result in a slightly different taste and texture.
Originating in Spain, horchata was brought to Latin America by the Spanish conquistadors. Unable to obtain the nuts it was originally made with in the new lands, they used rice as the base for the drink. Rice was commonly available throughout Central America and was already a food staple in the region. The rice was simmered in water with cinnamon until it was soft, then blended after the cinnamon sticks were removed.
Parboiling is a method of processing rice. Instead of going through the typical hulling process, which breaks the hull off, parboiled rice has its inedible covering steamed off, so that some of the nutrients and minerals in the hull are absorbed by the grain itself during processing. The resulting rice is still white in appearance and takes a longer amount of time to cook, but has less starch on the outside of the grain.
Horchata is prepared in the same manner regardless of the kind of rice used, although cooking times may vary depending on the rice. The grains are simmered until they are completely soft, about 30 to 40 minutes for parboiled rice, then blended until smooth. Alternatively, you can leave the rice to soak overnight at room temperature. In both situations, use a ratio of 5 parts water to every 1 part rice. Add ingredients such as almonds for extra flavor and nutritional value.
To mask the slightly different flavor and texture of parboiled rice, add blanched almonds to the recipe, which is another traditional way of making the beverage. Adding extra lemon or lime zest, or vanilla, also enhances the taste of the drink. Parboiled rice horchata can be served either hot or cold, over ice, or blended into a smoothie.
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