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The avocado is a true paradox of nature. A mini-pear by virtue of appearance, it is mushy with fatty goodness that will squish and pulp over the tongue as you take a bite.
Beyond its muted sweetness and buttery taste, the beauty of this fruit also lies in its versatility. There are so many ways in which you can work with the avocado besides the ubiquitous side serving of a bowl of guacamole to dunk your tortilla chips into. And this very malleability is what a few restaurants in Pune have cashed in on.
In the West, ‘avocado toast’ is almost mainstream in its reputation as a breakfast snack. 11 East Street Café does its own interpretation of the dish by slapping a verdant, slightly spicy mixture of avocados and chillies onto a crispy crostini, topping it up with fresh tomatoes and cheese shavings, and baking the ensemble. The result is an open-faced sandwich that is scrumptious as well as wholesome.
Similarly, in keeping with their inclination towards health food, Tien rustles up a sandwich that has avocado whirled with hummus. The combined creaminess of the two elements makes for a lovely, smooth spread over the bread – and a few sun-dried tomatoes cutting through the oily flavours pack a fresh, nutritious punch.
If you want to skip the carbs and opt for something healthier, the pineapple avocado watercress salad at Seasonal Tastes is a great option. The cool, peppery fragrance of the greens plays the perfect foil for the mellow, nutty aftertaste of the avocado and the sweetness of the fruit in this traditional Cuban delicacy.
And if Italian is how you prefer to take your salads, Dario’s dishes out a flavourful one featuring avocado, tomato, chives and artichokes on a bed of crunchy lettuce with a smattering of cheese flakes and sunflower seeds on top. All these earthy components come together beautifully as a colourful salad in a tart vinaigrette dressing.
Little Italy does a less complex variety, tossing avocado and ripe, red tomatoes together with mozzarella in a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Both of these Italian establishments also whip up interesting avocado dips – the one here is flavoured with lemon, onion and garlic and served with warm farmer’s bread, while Dario’s does a plain version served with corn chips.
At Shizusan, avocado appears with a Japanese twist as a filling for two of their maki rolls. One blends it with spiced mayo, tempura flakes and hints of togarashi packed snugly into a rice cover, and there is also the classic California sushi combining avocado with cucumber – two mildly toned elements – in a special home-made sauce.
Still, if we were to choose the most exotic renditions of the avocado in the city, the ‘lomo de carne apanado’, ‘llapingachos and calabacin’, and ‘camarones en apuro’ at Café Columbia would take the proverbial cake. The first in the list is a delicious lamb breadcrumb cutlet served with papaya salsa grilled avocado and mashed potato, the second a type of potato-zucchini cake with crème fraichas, red kraut, apple salad and grilled avocados, and the final one is a classic platter from the region starring a multitude of elements including rice, ground meat, lamb and bean gravy, sausage, lemon, plantain, chicken breast, fried egg and, of course, avocado all blended in hogao sauce, an age-old Colombian condiment, which makes this, like the menu aptly puts it, truly a meal to remember. Clearly, Colombia takes its avocados very seriously!
Finally, if you would rather enjoy the delicate, grassy flavours of this greasy fruit in the form of a beverage, Salad Grills does two excellent avocado smoothies – one combining it with pineapple and spinach, and another adding beet, carrot and romaine to the mix.