Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vaimeleni - Watermelon Drink

By panipopos

Last week my friend gave me a watermelon, a traditional summer gift in this part of the world. Even after giving half of it to the neighbours, I still wasn't sure how I was going to eat the other half. It just seemed so huge.

Then it suddenly dawned on me, I didn't have to eat it, I could drink it.

This watermelon concoction is more commonly associated with Tonga (where it's known as otai) than with Samoa, but variations of this drink are found across the Pacific Islands. This is my favourite version of it, and it's inspired by my sister O. Just like her, it's sweet and cool, with just the right touch of coconut.

Vaimeleni is the kind of drink you make out on the porch, on a hot slow summer's day when you've got nothing better to do. Wear an old lavalava and T-shirt, because the watermelon scraping can get quite messy. Better still, get some kids to do the scraping. This is a drink that's fun and messy and delicious.

Vaimeleni (makes 3-4 liters/quarts)

½ medium watermelon
½ cup (25g) grated coconut 
1 cup (240ml) coconut milk
2 cups (480ml) water
2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice 
½ a 567g (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple
sugar (to taste)
ice cubes for serving

With all the ingredients above, fresh is best, except for the pineapple (see the vaifala post for why).

Use a fork or spoon to scrape out the watermelon flesh into a large bowl. Catch the juice too, so you end up with a chunky kind of slush. Remove seeds with a spoon, though you can ignore the yellow ones. 

Add everything else, except for the sugar and ice, and mix well. As with thevaifala, mix and taste, dilute and sweeten, until you have the taste you like.

Chill and serve over ice, in a tall glass with a spoon. And be sure to stir it well before you present it, just so the fruit is well-distributed and the coconut milk is incorporated. 

* You can substitute pineapple juice for the water, and mango for the watermelon. I've also had versions of this with grated apple and papaya.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so so much for this recipe for vaimelegi..I have to entertain my palagi family and they want something from the islands,hahaha..they will try this and learn to like it and love it..fa'afetai tele.