I have a very odd relationship with pina coladas. While I absolutely love pineapples, I grew up with a raging hatred of coconuts. A Malayali who hates coconuts – I was a shame to my people! Despite my hatred, coconuts followed me everywhere! I was the only kid from Kerala at my high school and our farewell party was cocktail themed. I was named Miss Pina Colada presumably because it was a coconut milk based cocktail and as we all know, all Keralites are made up of 20% coconut (oil, milk, chutney, curry, desserts it’s everywhere!)
Needless to say when I hit the drinking age I didn’t live up to my title. Sure I eventually got over my irrational hatred of coconut but that wasn’t until much later. Even so I still hadn’t tried a pina colada. But then I found out that I was born on National Pina Colada Day and well, that kinda sealed the deal for me. Thank god it did because I loved it and here we are with my own recipe for one!
Pineapples are notoriously difficult to clean. When I lived in the city I would get pre-cleaned pineapples which makes this recipe really easy. Out here we mostly get our pineapples from local vendors and while the downside is that you have to clean it yourself, the upside is that it’s freshly harvested, organic and totally worth it for recipes such as this one that champion the pineapple.
Cocktail recipes don’t usually require too many appliances but I’ve used two of my favourites for a twist on the classic pina colada. Why add plain fresh pineapple when you can grill them! This extra step makes the pineapples sweeter and smokier, adding more depth of flavour to the final drink. I never thought I’d use a tandoor to make a cocktail but this has already become my favourite recipe with the Sanjeev Kapoor Tandoor Ultima. You’d think that setting up a tandoor involves a lot of unnecessary work for a simple cocktail recipe but that’s the charm of this tandoor. All you have to do is plug it in and you’re good to go! I also love that the tandoor opens up flat so that you can grill multiple pieces at a time. Be sure to use a silicone heat-proof spatula while using the tandoor as steel cutlery can damage the coating.
One quick grilling session later you’ll be left with a pile of delicious pineapple that you’ll have to control yourself from eating as is. Reserve a few best looking pieces for garnish and transfer the rest to
a powerful blender along with the pineapple juice and basil leaves. I like to use my trusty Wonderchef Sumo Silverado Mixer Grinder! I would recommend the large juicer jar but without the strainer attachment. We’ll still end up straining the blended juice, only with a larger strainer. The strainer attachment is great for really finely strained juices but this recipe works well with a chunkier strain!
Once you have your blended juice ready all you have to do is add the coconut milk and rum and refrigerate. The rum is totally optional and even though I love a boozy afternoon cocktail, a virgin pina colada is one of the few mocktails I actually love! Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of alcohol according to your preference.
- 650g pineapple chunks (1 large pineapple)
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 6-8 basil leaves
- 150ml white rum
- Clean and prepare your pineapple. Remove the eyes of the pineapple but retain the core. Slice into thick discs and then cut into four.
- Turn the tandoor on and grill the pineapple for about 2 minutes on each side until you get good score marks on the wedges.
- Reserve a few pieces for garnish and transfer the rest to a bowl when done.
- In a juicer jar, blend the grilled pineapple with the pineapple juice and basil leaves until you get a smooth mix.
- Strain with a mesh strainer into a large bottle.
- Add the coconut milk and white rum and shake well.
- Pour over crushed ice.
- Top glasses with grilled pineapple.
Author: Sneha Sundar is the creator of You Dim Sum, You Lose Some; a philosophy she adopts both in and out of the kitchen.