July 29, 2010

“Horchata de chufas”: Refreshing tigernut milk


The things I love most about summer are 1) the variety of fantastic summer fruits available and 2) to make ice-cold juices, ice or milkshakes, lassis or any other refreshing juice! One of such juices is cool tigernut milk, to my preference lightly flavoured with a hint of lemon rind and cinnamon! Sometimes slightly frozen to make a half-sherbet, half-drink! Either way fantastic!

Tigernuts are a tubers, like potatoes, that in Spain are grown only in Valencia. When developed, the plants over the ground are burnt (quite spectacular, in fact) to make the harvest easier. Then, they are washed, dried and selected to remove damaged specimens…and ready to use!


So, “horchata de chufas”, actually written “orxata de xufes” (in Valencia) is the traditional summer drink in Valencia. Horchata really means the milky extract from any vegetable source, such as hazelnuts, almonds, barley, rice or in this case tigernuts. In fact in the past, in Valencia it was commonly made with rice, as it was cheaper than tigernuts!  If made not overly sweet (which you often find) it really quenches your thirst. Sweeter it still makes a tasty (and really nutritious & digestive) snack! I really like it’s flavour, but like with everything, not everyone does…so you’ll have to try! It is often found elsewhere in Spain bottled by commercial brands, but like with most things, why buy it ready made, when the “artisan” home-made touch can be so much better, and furthermore, it’s so simple to make, assuming you can get hold of the principal ingredient: tigernuts!

Have you ever tried the tuber itself? To me it tastes fairly different to the milk made by blending them with water to extract all their flavour! I’ve read that tigernuts from other areas other than Valencia aren’t half as sweet and flavourful. But I haven’t tested for myself, as the only ones I’ve encountered are the national ones. But these, I assure you, are like candy. They are super sweet and have a very particular taste and texture. No wonder you need to add up so little sugar to the extracted milk!


Anyway, if you can get hold of tigernuts, I suggest you try to make this simple recipe to quench your thirst in these hot summer days! If the tigernuts are not from Spain, you may need to add extra sugar, in any case, adjust sweetness to your taste. Also, to me the touch of lemon rind and cinnamon improves the drink, but you may prefer the pure thing like Linguini who when he tastes the slightest hint of cinnamon says it tastes like bun! Lastly, try half-freezing it as if it were a granita, I think it’s even better! In valencia the sherbet-one is served with a straw that ends in a spoon, so you can either drink it or scoop it. Up to you…but try!!!!

Horchata de chufas (Tigernut milk)

(To make 1L)

250g tigernuts

1L water

~100g sugar (or up to 150g)

(optional: a small piece of lemon rind)

(optional: a small piece of cinnamon bark)

extra water to hydrate the tigernuts

Few ingredients. Simple & tasty recipe! Ideally hydrate the tigernuts overnight or up to two days, by covering them generously in cold water and keeping them in the fridge (otherwise they may ferment). If they are really dry and they need two days, change the water each day.


They will swell up a bit…


Then, place the tigernuts with the sugar, the lemon & cinnamon if you choose to use them, and with about half the water and blend into a smooth liquidy paste, add the rest of the water gradually, unless it won’t fit the blender. In that case, it’s best to blend the tigernuts with half of the water, strain and place the left-over pulp into the blender again with the rest of the water to extract as much as possible.


I used to strain it through a fine mesh strainer or chinois, it hadn’t occurred to me a better way to do this, until a lady from Valencia in the market “L’Olivar” in Palma de Mallorca in the stand of dried nuts (I bought some tigernuts) told me that there was no better way to strain them than using a panty sock! And it’s try, you can press easily to extract all the milk and just leave behind the flavourless powdered nuts!


You can just pour it all in, and just press out all the juice!


Leave in the fridge to cool, or even freeze slightly and use a blender to smooth it up…


Just a note to say that it is common to leave the blended mix without straining overnight (again) to mature it. I think it’s unnecessary if the tigernuts have been well hydrated, in my opinion the result isn’t improved, but if you choose to do so, be sure to minimise the amount of lemon rind or cinnamon as those flavours do infuse in the mix and get much more enhanced!

So, however you choose to make it, freshen up with some ice-cold horchata! And if you can get hold of some traditional fartons (long finger-wide leavened buns) warm them up and soak them in your cold horchata! D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!!! I’ve still got to work on making them myself, but I hope to eventually get there! In the meanwhile, on it’s own it’s still well worth it!



Anonymous said...

Nunca me gustó la horchata! que le vamos a hacer! siempre preferí la leche merengada,... hace años en Madrid era fácil encontrar sitios donde vendían estas dos y limonada, todo eso se perdió... como tantas cosas, claro.Me alegro por J que se ha librado de las chufas y ya tiene sitio en la nevera ;P

Anonymous said...

ah! se me olvidaba... nunca había oido hablar de los fartons... pero estoy seguro que sí daría buena cuenta de ellos...

Colette said...

:( no sabía que no te gustaba. Aún así quizás ésta con el toque "a leche merengada" (limón y canela) sí que te gustase granizada.
Los gustos...justo el otro día descubrimos (aunque lleva ya muchos años funcionando) una horchatería:"Alboraya", la lleva un valenciano y probamos ambas: la horchata y la leche merengada. La leche merengada espectacular, bien helada y la servían muy por encima del borde de la copa, pero probé la horchata y me gustó muchísimo mas. Menos dulce, más equilibrada...cayeron dos vasos seguidos! Pero está claro, para gustos, los colores!
Allí redescubrimos los fartons, que ya había probado en Valencia, pero en su momento no me habían entusiasmado tanto. Imagino que caseros mucho mejor, en cualquier caso, absorben la horchata como los savoiardi se empapan de café y con cada mordisco explotan y te devuelven el frescor de la horchata. Queda pendiente probar y probar hasta una buena receta sacar!;) Y sí, Linguini ya no tiene de que quejarse...un tupper menos!:D

elra said...

This is a truly unique nut, I never seen it before. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for introducing us with tiger nut.

Colette said...

I hope you manage to find it and try it. Here it is common to find the "horchata" almost anywhere, but not so easy to find the tigernut itself!In fact, I've been keeping a supply my mother brought me for almost a year and didn't want to use it all up until now that I found where to find it here! (that's why linguini complained, cause I used up some fridge space!:) ). Lately I've been making almost twice a week, but without any of the aromatics, just the nut, sugar and water (Linguini wins) still fantastic, though!I forgot to mention, that when strained, some of the extractacted pulp tends to set in the bottom of the bottle. We prefer to feel it on the drink (it gives it body) so from time to time, we shake it to mix it back with the rest.

Hannatu said...

I am so excited. I am a Nigerian. In the north, where I am from we have tiger nuts in abundance and we enjoy tiger nut juice popurlarly known as 'kunun aya'. We soak the tiger nuts and blend then sieve.
People add a variety of stuff to it. From coconut to dates. Some add ginger and cloves. It is absolutely refreshing.

Colette said...

Wow Hannatu, that's so interesting, thanks for sharing! I'd heard that many of the tigernuts sold nowadays in Spain come from Africa, but that is as far as i knew. It is certainly good to see some other ingredients can be fantastic additions! I recently read about adding dries apricots too..for next season, i will definately be trying some of those variations! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right Hannatu! I love Horchata made out of rice - quite popular in mexican restaurants here. It will be brilliant if I could get tiger nuts. Tiger nuts are quite delicious on its own too. I snacked on it quite a bit in Nigeria.


awesome drink! we grow then here in Nigeria very well. Its an aphrodisiac as well!!!

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