PALEO HORCHATA – Frothing at the mouth!

One of the activities that I do that puts me in an instant state of celebration is singing in a Gospel choir. The other is going to Oakland’s Ethiopian restaurant, Cafe Colluci.
The other night, driving home from choir rehearsal, craving for Ethiopian food sweeps over my mind and taste buds. I call in to order some Buticha to go –  which is kind of like hummus in consistency – creamy & thick – made from chickpea flour, olive oil, diced jalapeño peppers and tomatoes and oh!, so delicious.
As soon as I hang up, I realize that I also have a hankering for their flax seed drink. Since I know it’s made with honey, flax seed and water, I decide I’m going going to use up some of my flax seeds and experiment with making this myself.
And OH! How glad I am. It’s like getting a blood transfusion to drink this bevvie, which I soon learn is called TELBA, the Ethiopian word for flax seed.
I don’t know if I’m chronically dehydrated or if my body just loves the creamy, lightly sweet rich beverage. I think back to how much I used to LOVE thai iced teas, until I started eliminating sugar and caffeine from my diet and low and behold thai iced teas have become part of my past.
BUT TELBA – oh so good, oh! so healthy. And OH! SO EASY TO MAKE.
AND OH! How with a little added cinnamon, it resembles HORCHATA, which I love except it’s also generally made with sugar  and if you’re paleo, grains are a no-no.
OH! We have solutions, to all these forbidden fruits!
Here’s what you’ll need for TELBA / PALEO HORCHATA:
Ingredients, 4 to 6 servings
  • Flaxseed — 1 cup
  • Water — 6 cups
  • Honey — 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon


  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over low heat. Add the flaxseed and dry roast it in the skillet, stirring, for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the toasted flaxseed in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Sift through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  3. Add the water to the flaxseed in a blender, stir and let set for about 10-20 minutes to allow the seeds to soften.
  4. Blend and serve.
  5. Note: You can also strain into a pitcher if you want a very smooth drink. I often skip this step to keep it simple.
  6. Add honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon.
  7. Chill before serving or blend with ice.

Variations for Flavor Fun

  • Telba Firfit: Mix telba with broken up pieces of (injera) bread and heat. Serve as a sidedish. Almost like bread pudding.
  • Toasted grains, unhulled barley and sunflower seeds are sometimes added to telba for additional flavor.
  • Experiment with varied different spices, a few together or one at a time: cardamom, ginger & turmeric is another fave of mine.
  • Use this instead of milk: poured over cold or hot cereal or with a piece of chocolate cake.

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