'Otai, a watermelon drink popular in Polynesia, is a refreshing concoction usually made with coconut milk or cream. Our lower-fat almond milk version is just as creamy, and dairy-free, too!
What's the Story Behind this Recipe?
'Otai is a Polynesian fruit drink that is usually made with heavy cream and or coconut milk. I stumbled on this dairy-free, lower-fat version completely by accident.
Some years ago, I found myself sitting in the summer heat needing something cold and refreshing. I'd sampled 'otai at my daughter's house and loved it, so I decided to give her recipe a try. Unfortunately, I had none of the heavy cream it called for, so I subbed in sweetened almond milk, expecting a refreshing, but a rather mundane result.
Instead, much to my surprise, the almond milk version was delicious - nearly as creamy and refreshing as the cream-based one! Plus, switching out the cream (or coconut milk) for almond milk lowered the fat content dramatically!
This dairy-free 'otai is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is two ingredients and five minutes!
What Goes into this Recipe
This family-friendly Polynesian watermelon drink recipe is great way to use up the remnants left after making a watermelon basket or melon balls!
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
★ Watermelon: Use any fresh, sweet watermelon. This is a great way to use watermelon that is a little past its prime.
★ Almond milk: Regular almond milk works just fine, but we recommend using an almond-coconut milk blend. You will not be disappointed.
If you use sweetened almond milk, you do not need to add any other sweeteners to the mix. If you use unsweetened almond milk, you will need to add a little sugar, depending upon your personal tastes.
♦︎ Pineapple: Add another layer to the flavor profile by adding a half a cup of fresh or canned pineapple when you blend it.
♦︎ Mango: Mango is another tropical traditionally included in 'otai.
♦︎ Shredded coconut: We really like the added flavor a handful of shredded coconut brings to the mix.
How to Make this Recipe
Pour 2 cups of almond-coconut milk and 16 ounces of watermelon in a blender.
If you use sweetened almond milk, you do not need to add any additional sugar to your 'otai. If you use unsweetened almond milk, add ½ cup of sugar to the mixture, sweetening to taste.
Add any optional ingredients (i.e., pineapple, mango, coconut) as desired.
Blend until almost smooth and serve cold over ice.
FAQs & Expert Tips
'Otai (pronounced OH – tie) has its roots in Polynesia. Tongans claim to have invented this modern watermelon-based version, but Hawaiians, Samoans, and Fijians, and other Polynesian cultures now all enjoy this refreshing, easy-to-make beverage.
Traditionally, the fruit in 'otai is shredded; however, this is an easy 'otai recipe, and shredding all that fruit can be pretty time consuming. A blender makes the work fast and easy, making this recipe very party-friendly.
Easy 'Otai (Polynesian Watermelon Drink)
- 1 Blender
- 2 cups sweetened almond-coconut milk or unsweetened + sugar
- 16 ounces watermelon cut up, seeds removed
- ½ cup sugar use only if using unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup pineapple optional; fresh or canned
- ½ cup shredded coconut optional
- 1 whole mango optional; chopped
- Put 2 cups of almond-coconut milk and 16 ounces of watermelon in a blender.If you use sweetened almond milk, you do not need to add any additional sugar to your 'otai. If you use unsweetened almond milk, add ½ cup of sugar to the mixture, sweetening to taste.
- Add any optional ingredients (i.e., pineapple, mango, coconut) as desired.
- Blend until almost smooth and serve cold over ice.
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Originally published Septemeber 2, 2013. This post has been updated with new images, content, and recipe instructions to improve reader experience.