Home Costa Blanca What is Horchata?

What is Horchata?

by Loraine Gostling

Horchata (or Orxata ) is a popular non-alcoholic drink from Valencia.

There is confusion over what horchata is made of mainly because there are two types. There is a rice-based horchata, which is a popular drink in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, but horchata here in Spain  is made of water, sugar, and tiger nuts. Spanish horchata has a uniquely different taste than the Latin American version, which tastes more like rice pudding.

Nutritional Value of Tiger Nuts

No tigers were injured in the making of the tiger nut-based drink, nor were nuts used. Tiger nuts, called chufas in Spanish, are actually a weedlike tuber called Cyperus esculentus.

Horchata is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and people with nut or dairy allergies.

Due to its chemical composition, tiger nuts share characteristics with tubers and with nuts. It has been reported to be a health food since its consumption can help prevent heart disease and thrombosis and is said to activate blood circulation and reduce the risk of colon cancer. This tuber is rich in energy content (starch, fat, sugar, and protein), minerals (mainly phosphorus and potassium), and vitamins E and C.

Horchata and fartons of Valencia

The consumption of chufa was actually documented in Ancient Egypt: it seems like the pharaohs appreciated its flavor, and vestiges of the tuber have been found in their sarcophagi. From there, the plant expanded throughout northern Africa and Arab invaders brought it into the Iberian peninsula, where the Mediterranean soil proved to be very well adapted to its cultivation. Because alcoholic drinks are forbidden by Islam, the faithful began drinking chufa milk, which is at the origin of today’s horchata valenciana.

Chufa fields in Alboraya, Valencia. BRUNO ALMELA AGE FOTOSTOCK

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