CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
As a flight attendant Rupali Chandrashaker got to experiment with different types of cuisines during her travels. One of these were smoothie bowls. “One look at these gorgeous and balanced bowls and it’s hard not to be addicted,” she confesses. After moving back to Goa in 2017 and having a child, Chandrashaker found it hard to find similar options in the state.
“There were a few places that did have them on their menu but it was as an addition to their main menu. Most options included smoothie blends with banana or yoghurt,” she says. And so, she began toying with the idea of starting a brand that focused on interesting, nutritious and deliciously different smoothie bowls. After she put forward this idea to her friend Jyotika Khilnani, the latter quickly hopped on board and Sunshine Bowls Goa began to take shape.
“Soon we were testing recipes and brainstorming the way forward. We knew that there was a gap in the market with no one else offering especially curated healthy smoothie bowls and we decided that that’s the area we wanted to focus on,” says Khilnani. “We did some trials with friends and neighbours and everyone loved the idea, which reinforced our belief that there was a market waiting to be explored.”
Having begun operations in September 2020, the duo who are based in Porvorim serves up bowls of yummy like the mango turmeric bowl, tropical bowl, mint chocolate bowl, and more. As of now they offer deliveries on Wednesdays and Saturdays on pre-order basis, with no minimum order value within a 15-kilometre radius. They accept orders on airmenus.in or WhatsApp and even on Instagram. One can also order Sunshine Bowls smoothies on other days and for parties with a minimum order value of `1500. The duo states that they try and change the menu regularly and have also started doing weekly specials to keep things interesting. “We also realised that a lot of our customers wanted to enjoy our bowls more than twice a week and we offer them subscription plans based on their bowl size preferences.”
And they are constantly looking for nutritious ingredients to incorporate into the bowls. “We want to focus on ingredients that don’t usually end up on our plates but have a lot of nutrition to provide, while also trying to use local and Indian staples in an interesting way. For example, recently we have used noni fruit powder which is a superfood not commonly found in our Indian diets,” says Chandrashaker. They also have a chocolate bean bowl in their May menu that uses ‘chawli’ or black-eyed peas. “The bowl is so creamy and indulgent that you’d never guess it’s made with a bean,” says Chandrashaker. And indeed, the duo tries to make healthier versions of common desserts like carrot cake, chocolate pudding.
They also enjoy playing around with unusual ingredients. It is all about finding a balance of flavours. “I think people usually find some of our combinations odd/unusual till they try it, like cauliflower in our chocolate bowl, zucchini in our cookie dough bowl or beetroot in our beet and berry bowl,” says Khilnani. “We have had to convince some people to give it a try but once they do, they love it.”
Of course, not all of their experimentations with unusual combos have been successful enough to make it to their menu. “I tried a bowl once with chickpeas and while I thought it tasted pretty good, one look at Jyotika’s face during the taste test confirmed that it would definitely not end up on our menu,” says Chandrashaker laughing. “I also feel grapes are an ingredient we haven’t worked out how to incorporate into our trials effectively. It just has a certain smell after blending that is a little off putting to me. But I’m not giving up on it yet.”
But it’s all about the learning, says Khilnani. “We have had some bowls on the menu which we thought would do really well, but they didn’t get the response we were expecting. And then there have been bowls which we thought were experimental and they have been big hits. So, I guess you could say we are still learning how to read our customers’ likes and dislikes,” she says.
Their biggest challenge though has been trying to get people to move away from the idea of a smoothie bowl as only a breakfast or brunch meal. “Also, we have had a tough time finding a delivery partner, because we are very particular about how we want our bowls to be handled and delivered. Due to this we do all our deliveries ourselves,” says Khilnani.
The duo has also realised that people have a few misconceptions about healthy food. “The ones I’ve come across are that healthy food, especially vegan food cannot be delicious. Also, for an ingredient to be considered a superfood it has to be rare, expensive and come from some exotic place. While that might be true for a lot of superfoods in the market right now, there are so many ingredients in our country and history that are superfoods but have just been forgotten about along the way,” says Chandrashaker.
For now, their next step is to increase the areas and days of deliveries. “The ultimate dream will be to have a smoothie bowl cafe where we can serve our customers across the counter,” says Khilnani, while Chandrashaker adds: “Our tag lines include ‘Smoothies and more’ so at some point soon we would like to work on the ‘more’ part of that phrase.”