Not to be confused with its Mexican counterpart of horchata, orxata is a uniquely Spanish drink. The rice-based version of horchata is commonly found in Mexico and Latin America while orxata is made with sugar, water, and tiger nuts. You can find these nuts at African grocery stores or they can be ordered online. Orxata is widely available all throughout Spain. The drink has been around for centuries and spread to Spain around 1000 AD after the Muslim Conquest. Locals typically enjoy this cool and refreshing drink in the late afternoon while taking their daily break from work. Because it is such a simple drink, there is little variation in how it is prepared. Although you can find the beverage pre-packaged at many stores, it always tastes better homemade. You can find the drink all throughout Spain at restaurants, bars, and even available from street vendors. Once you get a taste of this sweet drink, you will understand why it is one of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages in the country.
1 cup tiger nuts
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground cinnamon (for garnish)
The day before you plan to prepare the orxata, it is important to cover the tiger nuts with approximately two inches of water and soak for 24 hours at room temperature. After the nuts have been soaked, line a fine-meshed sieve with a layer of cheesecloth. Gently drain the tiger nuts through the sieve and then put them into a blender. Add the four cups of hot water and blend for about two minutes until smooth. Although the water should be hot, it should not be boiling. Pour the blended nuts through the sieve again and use the cheesecloth to squeeze out all of the remaining liquid. Add the sugar and salt to the orxata and stir to combine. The mixture should be thick and creamy.
After the orxata has cooled completely, transfer it to a bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. The orxata is best enjoyed served over ice and sprinkled with cinnamon. For an extra treat, serve the orxata with the traditional Spanish dessert of fartons. These sweet pastries make the perfect complement to the richness of the orxata. Many Spanish locals enjoy dunking the fartons into the orxata for the ultimate indulgence.
Once you try this recipe for yourself, you will be sold on the flavorful cuisine of this region of the world and Spain food. Although it can be closely recreated at home, there is nothing that compares to enjoying a sweet glass of orxata while vacationing in the beautiful and inviting country of Spain.