Horchata: Tiger-Nut Milk

Does anyone remember tiger nuts? We always had some in our snack cupboard when I was growing up, and they always illicted a “What are those?” from school friends.Then they kind of….disappeared.

 I absolutely loved them, and a good few years ago I had a “Whatever happened to tiger nuts?” moment, and discovered that, ONE: my favourite ever Spanish drink, horchata, was actually a nut milk made of tiger nuts (or chufas, in Spanish). TWO: You can no longer buy them in the UK unless its in a fishing supplies shop. Carp love them apparently. (They are toxic to carp when unboiled, fishermen beware).

This year in Spain I did actually remember to get some to bring home. I decided to turn a blind eye to my niggle about whether there was a human consumption issue, since they suddenly disappeared off health food shop shelves years ago?? Now, I am so sad I didn’t buy more, as I had forgotten how much I love them. Maybe I shall frequent some angling shops but somehow I feel a bit wierd doing that to be honest.

Chufas are quite hard and chewy, though you can soak them first. If you wish to make horchata, soak overnight, and then blend very well in a liquidiser. A ratio of 1 cup of nuts to 2-3 cups of water. Sweeten to taste,  with dates or honey, and strain the pulp out. (The Spanish version sweetens with sugar, but if  I had wanted to drink sugar, I would have brought back bottles of the (by-the-way-amazingly-delicious) shop version. I am seeking a chufi-experience that is a little more healthy.

They are very rich in fibre, they have a similar fat make-up to olives (high in oleic fatty acids), and are very high in the essential minerals phosphurus and potassium. They are also rich in Vitamins C and E. In short, rather much better than a bag of crisps.

If you can get over buying a mid-morning snack in an angling shop, I would encourage you to try these yummy little tubers. If not, next time you are in Spain pop into a local “Frutos Secos” (little shop selling nuts, and other crunchy snacks, including a “healthy” amount of sweets and lollipops)- and ask for chufas.

A tu salud amigos!

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