Summers were quite special for Neha Dalvi, a resident of Mumbai. As soon as the schools shut for vacations, the family packed up and headed to Ratnagiri, their native town. Kokum sharbat, slices of the famous Alphonso mangoes and a carefree playtime made for fun holidays.
Today, the days of playing in the Konkan villages may have long gone but there is no reason why one cannot enjoy the refreshing kokum or mango drinks. And yet, in megacities like Mumbai, the preservative-free beverages seem as rare as the Konkan fresh air.
The Dalvi family made it a point to get several bottles of the Kokum drink, mango pulp, gooseberry juice and amla candy back to Mumbai. The Konkan products were always in demand with their friends and family. When the requests for the beverages and snacks started coming in from as far as Delhi, Sangeeta, Neha’s mother and a doctor by profession, decided to get the tastes of rural Konkan across India.
Thus was born Aarya Naaturals, a small enterprise that will not only help you relive your childhood summer memories but is also helping rural women in Ratnagiri earn a substantial livelihood.
Straight from the kitchens in Ratnagiri:
For the Dalvi family, the enterprise was all about authenticity. The beverages that they enjoyed in the native Konkan town were made without any preservatives or additives. None of the big companies that had established their business in Mumbai could offer that taste thanks to the inclusion of added flavours in their recipes.
“Mango, cashews, jackfruit and kokum plantations are very common in Ratnagiri. We haven’t trained them to use machines but rather encourage them to make the beverages and snacks using traditional techniques. The sharbat is made in bulk so the taste is uniform but papad, candies and other such snacks are all handmade,” Neha shares.
The demand for such refreshments is towering and Aarya Naaturals is bridging this gap by offering the authentic desi flavours to the urban consumer.
Grow your kokum and sell it too:
Neha highlights the fact that they offer the market price on kokum, amla and mangoes to the farmers. Additionally, the women who stay at home all day are also offered a chance to make ready-to-consume products as a part-time job. “So we not only buy their raw products but also help them earn. As of now, about 15 women are working with Aarya Naaturals,” Neha, a biotechnologist, tells TBI.
A refreshing Konkan drink that is super healthy:
Kokum, usually consumed during summers, helps fight inflammation in the body. It also energises and hydrates you so the hot summer days don’t get you down.
In addition to these properties, gooseberry juice is a great source of Vitamin C. And when it comes to mango pulp, it is a wonderful source of iron, calcium and fibre. A glass of these juices is sure to keep you refreshed and hydrated.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)