There is something about Chicha that makes me think of my childhood. My grandmother, whom I lovingly call Mama, is an amazing cook. When I was little she would visit a few months at a time, every few years, and within those months I would be showered with the most delicious Venezuelan dishes I could imagine. From pabellón to arepas and empanadas and cachapas – you name it. Of course, during the summer Chicha was my favorite. Thick, sweet and ice cold, there is nothing that screams summer more to me than a tall glass of Chicha.
Naturally, everything Mama makes is delicious. Seriously, and there is no way that I can recreate the flavors. I have tried, multiple times, with her standing next to me and guiding me through the whole process and still – it is just never quite the same. So when I had this craving for Chicha the other day two things happened:
- I had to come to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t taste like Mama’s.
- Since it would never taste like hers, maybe I could remake it to fit my tastes today.
Chicha, the delicious milk and rice drink from the Venezuelan culinary gods of yore, is really simple to make though time consuming. You pretty much just soak rice overnight, blend it with a bit of water in the morning and then cook that thick goodness on the stove top adding enough water to it to ensure it cooks through. Then you let it cool, blend it with milk and sweeten it as desired.
Pretty simple right? However, there were a few changes I wanted to make. First off, I only buy brown rice. It is heartier, healthier and keeps me fuller longer plus I like the nutty taste. Second, I don’t drink regular milk anymore. Coconut milk on the other hand is my go to, which is why I decided to try it in this beloved drink I grew up loving.
The consensus? I was right. It wasn’t the drink I remembered having as a child but it was pretty darn close. The brown rice gives it a heartier feel and a richer taste while the coconut milk helps bring out some of the sweetness of the rice without overpowering it. It felt like a grown up version – a little less naughty. If I weren’t pregnant I would have added a splash of rum, which you can bet your bum I will do as soon as baby girl makes an appearance.
As soon as she does.
Like 24 hours later.
At the latest.
Check out the recipe, make a batch for yourself and let me know how it goes. Then invite me over, because I will never turn down an invite when Chicha is on the menu!
Almost Mama’s Chicha
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 60 minutes
Passive Time: 12 hours
1 cup brown rice
9 cups water, give or take
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 liter So Delicious (or other brand) Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Soak brown rice overnight.
In the morning, rinse rice and add to blender. Stream in just enough water for the rice to blend. Strain rice mixture through a fine sieve and set aside.
In a dutch oven over medium heat, combine strained rice mixture with 3 cups water, salt, cinnamon sticks, vanilla and sugar. Stir continuously, adding more water a cup at a time until rice is cooked and mixture is thick – about 1 hour and an additional 4-6 cups of water.
Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Taste and adjust sweetness.
Remove dutch oven from the heat and allow rice mixture to cool completely.
Once cool, add rice mixture and coconut milk to blender. Blend until smooth. Add more milk for a thinner drink if desired, then adjust sugar to taste.
Serve chicha over ice with a dash of cinnamon.