Every Christmas (with the exception of last year) Jeff and I travel to Tucson, Arizona for the holidays. Most of his immediate family lives there and over the past 6 1/2 years I have really grown to love Tucson like it’s my second home. Spending time there in December means I can slip back into my Spring/Fall wardrobe and enjoy used bookstores, funky coffee shops, family time and copious amounts of authentic Mexican food.
It was in Tucson that I first tried horchata.
Horchata is a Mexican drink made from white rice. If you’ve never tried it before I’m guessing that sounds questionable, right? I certainly wasn’t convinced. The first time I tried it I thought it was just ok. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste because over the years it has really grown on me. And since it’s very easy to make at home I can tweak the flavors to my liking. Sweetened condensed milk gives horchata a creamy consistency and enhances the earthy qualities of the rice. Sometimes I like to add a splash of vanilla. Cinnamon is a must.
I’m not sure where I came up with the idea for cardamom horchata but it kind of rules. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices and I’m always trying to find new ways to use it. Here it adds just the right amount of spiciness. Would people in Tucson enjoy this version? I have no idea but I bet you will.
- ½ cup white long grain basmati rice
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 3-5 cardamom pods (see note)
- ½ cup full fat sweetened condensed milk
- In a blender, puree the rice, water and cardamom pods for a minute on full power. Allow the mixture to steep for at least 2 hours.
- Strain the liquid into a measuring cup or bowl through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Discard the rice and cardamom.
- Whisk the sweetened condensed milk into the liquid and pour into two glasses. Top each with a dash of cinnamon.