Few people know, but the tigernut is not really a nut. Tigernut or chufa is the tuber of a crop weed called yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus). Its golden and edible tuber is a great culinary ingredient used for several delicious preparations such as the Spanish drink Horchata de Chufas which is made with tigernut milk.
Horchata de Chufas is a vegetable drink typical of Valencia Province in Spain. Its main ingredient is the Chufa, also known as tigernut. As part of the diet and medicine of Ancient Egypt, the consumption of tigernuts expanded across North Africa and reached the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain is today.
Before we talk about Horchata de Chufas…
There are different types of Horchatas in the world
The word horchata comes from the Latin term “hordeata” which means barley water and serves to describe a variety of drinks based on vegetables such as grains, cereals, nuts and tubers. The milky extract of these ingredients, called vegetable milk, is what characterises a horchata.
Where Horchata is consumed
In West African countries, such as Nigeria, there is a tigernut milk called Kunnu Aya and plays a strong role in their gastronomic culture.
In Spain, there is a Valencian recipe for horchata that was written in the 18th century and made with almonds, melon seeds and pine nuts. But, there are those who say that a local drink called llet de xufes (chufa milk) already existed much earlier.
In the Americas, the most common type is the rice horchata (horchata de arroz). This version is very popular in Mexico and belongs to a group of natural non-alcoholic drinks, the ‘aguas frescas‘. Other Latin American countries also have their local versions of horchatas that include sesame, melon seeds, nuts, and other local ingredients.
Horchata de Chufas Valenciana
The city of Alboraia, in the province of Valencia, is the birthplace of the Spanish Horchata de Chufa. In fact, the city is located in the Valencian region L’Horta Nord which includes a total of 16 cities producing chufa (tigernuts) and holding the Denomination of Origin label.
The Horchata Valenciana is produced with tigernut, water and sugar, it is also common to add cinnamon and lemon peel.
The drink has a sweet taste reminiscent of nuts, a delight! Traditionally served chilled and accompanied by fartóns, a type of sweet bread baked and covered with sugar. The tip is to dip the fartón in the horchata before eating.
How to make Horchata with Tigernuts
The tigernuts, after being picked, selected and washed, are left to soak, crushed and macerated, then the vegetable milk is extracted. Finally, the liquid is sieved and sugar is added. Temperature is a critical factor so the recommendation is to keep it always cool in low temperatures.
Locally known for its digestive and antidiarrheal properties, the Horchata de Chufa is highly caloric. Rich in starch, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, it also contains unsaturated fats and proteins that contribute to the control of cholesterol and triglycerides.
This drink is perfect for vegans, lactose-free and gluten-free diets. On the other hand, there is a high quantity of added sugar that diabetic people should be aware of. Nevertheless, you can always adjust the quantity of sugar when making homemade horchata.
Where to try the best Horchatas
In Valencia, it is possible to explore the Horchata from farming to the final drink. In fact, visiting the Horchaterías in Valencia, next to the chufa plantations, is an excellent gastronomic tour that can be done in many ways, including cycling by the plantations. There is also the Museo de la Horchata y la Chufa, which works by appointment and is near several plantations (Huertas) and Horchaterías in Alboraia.
Horchaterías in Valencia
- Horchatería de Santa Catalina, Valencia | Google maps
- Horchatería El Sarriers, Valencia | Google maps
- Horchatería Fabián, Valencia | Google maps
- Horchatería Daniel, Alboraia e Valencia | Google maps
- Horchatería Panach, Alboraia | Google maps
- Horchatería Toni, Alboraia | Google maps
- Horchatería Vida, Alboraia | Google maps
- Horchatería L’Obrador de Bou, Alboraia | Google maps
- Horchatería Subíes, Almàssera | Google maps