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Chilate from The Food of Oaxaca

Food and culture have always been integrated into Hispanic and Latinx culture, so it’s no surprise that we are celebrating this month with a delicious recipe from The Food of Oaxaca by Alejandro Ruiz and Carla Altesor. Although this recipe represents a small sliver of the rich culture that runs through Mexico, we think it’ll be an absolute hit if you’re looking to try something new, sweet, and inviting for fall. We hope this will pique your interest into trying other cuisine from this book and other parts of Central and Latin America.

To celebrate Hispanic and Latinx culture this month and every month, make sure to follow along using the hashtag #IAmLaCultura across social media.

Happy cooking!


Chilate is a beverage whose ingredients vary according to the customs of each region. On the coast of Oaxaca it is made with cacao and rice, while in Guerrero, the state to the north, it is prepared with corn. Some people add anise, ginger, or pepper, and there are even those who substitute piloncillo—unrefined cane sugar—for the sugar.

Serves 4
Time: 12 hours to soak and 45 minutes to cook

Water, as needed
½ cup white long-grain rice
½ cup whole cacao beans
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk

Wash the rice and place in a bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight.

Toast the cacao on a comal or in a cast-iron skillet over low heat, stirring often for 20 to 25 minutes or until the whole room smells of chocolate. The beans will change color and disintegrate when bitten. Set aside to cool. Peel by taking each bean in your hand, pressing it, and rubbing the cacao to loosen its outer skin. If it’s well roasted, the skin will come off easily.

Strain the soaked rice and place in a blender along with the cacao, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and evaporated milk. Process until everything is finely ground. Strain through a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and add enough water to end up with 4 cups total. Serve with ice.


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Excerpted from The Food of Oaxaca by Alejandro Ruiz with Carla Altesor Copyright © 2021 by Alejandro Ruiz. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.