Anyone who thinks fats are unhealthy has surely not met an avocado. High in both calories and fat and yet good for your heart, avocado is one of the most delicious ways to stay healthy. Because I love avocados and can eat guacamole for pretty much every meal, several readers of this blog have asked me where to buy good avocados. I can't vouch for the rest of world but if you live in Mumbai, specifically the western suburbs, read on to find out where and how to buy the best avocados.
Step 1: Local or Imported - There are several variants of avocados. In Mumbai though, storekeepers only know of two varieties. The imported avocado (it's typically haas avocado) or the Indian avocado. I have seen the quality of Indian avocados get better over time so I see little point in paying 3-4 times the price for the imported version.
Step 2: Where to buy - In order of preference, my top 3 locations to buy the avocados are:
Pali Hill Vegetable Market: First get to 5 Spice/Wok Express on Pali Naka and keep walking towards Ambedkar Road. Take the first left just after Modern Chemist and you will see a lane full of fruit and vegetable sellers. Towards the end of this market, on your left and just before the last two fruit sellers, there is the largest vegetable store on the lane called Lalu Vegetables. Ask for Sunil and tell him to pick the avocado for you.
Godrej Nature's Basket: The stores on Bandra Hill Road and Juhu both have a decent collection of avocados. Go early though, specially on weekends, as they run out of the good stuff.
Four Bungalows: This is my least favourite of the three but in case of an avocado emergency, several vegetable vendors in the four bungalow market sell avocados. They only have 2-3 avocados though (unlike the baskets full that Sunil has) so make sure you pick well and try out other vendors if you are unsure of what the first guy is selling you.
Step 3: How to Buy - You will find everything from unripe to too ripe avocados at these stores. Generally, if you buy an unripe one, you can leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days to ripen. But this is not a foolproof strategy with the Indian variety, so it is best to buy ones just ripe to eat. To find those, press the avocado slightly. It should feel soft but not mushy. If it feels as hard as a pear, do not buy it.
To avoid overripe avocados, check the top of the fruit where the stem is. If the little dent left after removing the stem is clear and light in color, you are good to go. If you find it black or mouldy, move on to the next fruit. When buying in Pali market, the guy usually asks me when I want to eat the avocado and finds the right one. He hasn't yet sold me a bad avocado so that might be a good strategy.
That's it folks. Now that you have your supplies of avocados, you are set for everything from guacamole to avocado toast to some delicious smoothies.