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In Valencia, Spain, they call it orxata de xufa and make it with chufa (tiger nuts). On the island of Puerto Rico, it’s called horchata de ajonjolí, and the key ingredient is sesame seeds. Some believe this classic beverage originated in Egypt, traveling to Spain and Italy with North African immigrants during the Middle Ages, and later making its way to the Americas with the conquistadors. Others claim it has its roots in Nigeria, where a similar drink called kunnu aya is made with chufa and honey.

Wherever it came from, horchata is now a beloved brew that can be found all over the world. Its preparation, flavor, and ingredients can vary as wildly as the landscapes and cultures that enjoy it. This vegan recipe combines the toasted rice and almond style popular in Campeche, Mexico, with a sweetener made from another regional staple—agave. 

Vanilla Bean & Agave Horchata

• 1 whole cinnamon stick (Optional: Add more for garnish)
• 2/3 cup white, long-grained rice
• 1/3 cup almond meal
• 1 vanilla bean
• 2 cups warm water
• 3 cups almond milk
• 1/4 cup agave nectar (add more if you like it sweet)

Cast iron skillet
Cheesecloth or dashikoshi bag (Japanese cotton straining bag)


Break your cinnamon stick into small pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, toss in your pieces of cinnamon, rice, and almond meal. Toast until you can smell a nutty aroma.

Move your cinnamon, rice, and almond meal into a blender. Scrape the insides of your vanilla bean into the blender. Add water and blend for 3 to 5 minutes until smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover, and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Pour your mix into a large pitcher through wet cheesecloth that’s been folded over several times, or a large cloth dashikoshi bag. Squeeze out any extra liquid. Add your almond milk and agave nectar. Give it a taste and add more agave nectar if you’d like it sweeter.

Refrigerate for two hours. Serve cold over ice with cinnamon sticks.


By Annie Shannon 


Photographed by Evi Abeler

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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Tags: recipe , horchata

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