May 24, 2017
A growing trend among QSR (quick service restaurant) chains in Mumbai is that of serving avocado juice. A fruit (yes, a stone fruit that belongs to the berry family native to Mexico is now being blended into smoothies and juices at modest, family restaurants all over the city. Although avocado has been around for a while as dips like guacamole, salads as well as smoothies at high-end restaurants, it was not common to find it at restaurant chains like Shiv Sagar and other popular fast food joints in Mumbai.
In India, avocado or ‘butter fruit’, was hard to find, and was considered as an exotic fruit due to its high pricing. Today, a single fruit at the local vendor is priced within a range of Rs. 60 to Rs. 80.
But, why are the city’s pocket-friendly family restaurants, that too vegetarian as well as Udupi joints celebrating avocado? Let’s find out.
Shiv Sagar, which opened in the 90s, is a popular pick among Gujaratis, Marwaris and vegetarians from other communities. They were the first ones to introduce a range of avocado dishes at their Juhu outpost in May 2016. Talking about their new range of dishes using avocado, Shiva Singh of Shiv Sagar says, “We were introduced to avocado by a vendor, who came in and gave us demonstrations of different products that can be made with this fruit. We decided to run a trial for a couple of days, which did well and we added it to our menu.”
The next time you visit Shiv Sagar, be surprised to find a range of avocado dishes on the menu – Avocado Milkshake (Rs. 280), Avocado Salad (Rs. 230), Avocado juice (Rs. 150) and Papaya Avocado Layered, which is vanilla-ice cream served with layered avocado and papayas (Rs. 275).
What is interesting to find is that these restaurants are known for their quick service and budget-friendly pricing, which you usually don’t associate with an exotic fruit like avocado.
Even at Andheri’s Kalinga restaurant, which is known for its Udupi preparations, avocado has been welcomed by the young generation. Arun Kumar, a marketing professional says, “Although it was supposed to be fresh, I found it bland and liquidy.” His friend Vanraj Chawda surprisingly had a liking for it as he says, “I wanted to see how different could this be as I have tasted avocado milkshake at some other cafes. It had a flavour of cardamom that was overpowering, but was nice and thick otherwise.”
But owner Sachin Shetty of Kalinga wasn’t introduced to the exotic fruit by a vegetable vendor. “One of my relatives, who also runs a chain of restaurants, told me about avocado. I was amazed by the health benefits it offered and the various ways in which it could be served even raw,” he says. He decided to introduce a range of dishes that would benefit his customers and got avocado milkshakes and smoothies on the menu earlier this year in February.
Pappilon at Irla Market in Vile Parle is yet another example. Although their north Indian, south Indian and Chinese dishes are very popular, the restaurant has now started offering a variety of avocado juices and milkshakes. Prakash Shetty of Pappilon, informs, “We recently were introduced to avocado by one of the vendors and decided to have it on the menu as we found it to be interesting and refreshing for summers.” Currently they have only two – Avocado Milkshake and Avocado Juice for Rs. 120 respectively.
The exciting news is that the trend is not restricted to the Mumbai suburbs. Avocado juices and milkshakes are also to be found in Worli at Sadanand Coffee House. Staff Vijay Shetty says, “We were introduced to avocados two months ago by one of the avocado vendors and thought it was a great idea for the summers.” Their avocado milkshake is priced at Rs.110 and avocado juice at Rs.90.
Saldanha Fresh Avocados have been supplying avocados to approximately 20 to 25 restaurants in the city. They have been doing this for about seven to eight years, and deal with avocado pulp, seeds, fresh avocado seeds, fresh avocado and avocado plants. Praveen K says, “Our aim was to promote avocado and make it reach every household. So we targeted the fast food chains in Mumbai around August 2016 and also gave them demos of how the fruit is used.”