Guest/Three Cheers for Chicha

| September 1, 2011

A welcome to our guest contributor, Carolyng. Unknown as the “Undercover Latina” (after all, if she was known, she really wouldn’t be undercover), Carolyng expresses her multicultural heritage through foremost and most importantly food. When she isn’t making Venezuelan arepas, Portuguese bolinhas de bacalhau or good old homemade oatmeal-banana-carrot dog treats for her pup Napoleon, she is a paralegal by day and food lover all day, working on her book about being a first-generation American and the wonderful culinary experiences that ensue. Welcome, Carolyng!

Just like there are endless possibilities for consumption via plate, there are equally as many (if not more) possibilities for consumption via glass. Drinks can be sweet, sour, virgin, alcoholic, creamy, fruity, fizzy or simply on the rocks. The contents of the glass in your hand depends on your mood just as much as what you would like to pair it with. Sometimes, your drink is paired only with your mouth, and for that we need to celebrate.

In Venezuela, there is a drink that I have been in love with, in its various forms since I was a child. I have a very fond memory of my first encounter with chicha. I remember throwing rocks up at the mango trees in my backyard in Barcelona (Venezuela) and feasting on the ripe provisions that fell by my feet. I would hear my grandmother calling me for lunch. We would have pan-fried chicken, rice, caraotas, black beans with sautéed chopped garlic, green peppers and onion, and fried plantains. Next to my plate would be a tall glass of chicha on ice. A thick and creamy blend of softened rice, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and sugar, chicha was a refreshing, filling, smooth drink that had dessert written all over it- except that I would be having it with lunch!

Yes, a drink made of rice, sugar and condensed milk is loaded with liquid happiness. What is so great about this drink is that you can add so much to it, from chopped fruits to liquors. It is the perfect drink that you can make your own.

In Venezuela, you can get chicha on the street like you can get a hot dog in New York City. Chicheros are the little stands that sell these special treats. Vendors usually make the chicha with a pre-made mix that only requires water and is served with ice, a straw and added toppings such as chocolate chips or a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. The pre-made mix can also be found at the supermarket for a quick at-home version. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can make Chicha Andina, which is the traditional recipe made with added fermented pineapple or personalize it with a splash (or three) of rum. Though most popular during the holidays, chicha is a drink that is enjoyed all year round and can be shared with children and adults alike, with a few tweaks for differentiation of course.

The trick to making perfect chicha is having a powerful blender. What makes this drink so satisfying isn’t just the flavor, but the smooth texture. You can personalize it and make it your own by making it thicker or thinner with the amount of milk you add to it, yet still hold onto some of the tradition that has made it a classic in Venezuela. Although it takes over a day to make chicha in the traditional way, the time is more than worth your while. You will find that the ease of preparation and your final scrumptious product is all you need to make this one of your go to favorites. Buen Provecho!

Chicha Venezolana
2 cups of white rice
7 cups of water
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 – 2 cups of Milk or Water
1 – ½ cups or white sugar
Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon, Chocolate chips or other desired toppings

Directions – Traditional Versions
1. Add 2 cups of rice to 7 cups of water in a large pot. Allow to soak overnight at room temperature until rice is overly tender.
Quick Tip: Instead of soaking, cook rice until desired tenderness is reached. Additional cups of water may be necessary. Completely cool rice before continuing to next step.
2. In a blender add sweetened condensed milk (minus a few tablespoons if being used as topping), sugar and rice. Add a spoonful of vanilla extract and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Pour ¼ cup to ½ cup of milk (or water) to aid in blending.
3. Blend mixture until smooth. There should be no rice bits left. Add milk (or water) until desired consistency is reached.
Tip: Make this recipe in batches to aid in blending.
4. Refrigerate until cool.
5. Pour into tall glasses. Top off with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, diced fruit or any other delicious addition you have on hand.
6. Throw in some crushed ice and a straw. Enjoy!

Category: Beverages, Featured, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Mexico, Lat & South America, Recipe Vault, Travel & Culture

About the Author (Author Profile)

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Melissa says:

    I was lucky enough to be a taste-tester for this and can attest to its rich, creamy goodness! It’s almost a meal on its own!

  2. looks amazing, love the name!!