What are the reasons for the growing popularity of Falafel?
We did a proper market survey before launching our restaurant Falafel’s in Mumbai in 2008. The survey revealed that people were ready to experience Lebanese food and culture. A lot of Indians who regularly travelled abroad, especially the diamond merchants, would eat only falafel as it’s fresh and vegetarian.
Another Lebanese dish Shawarma had already become popular by that time. This led to a surge in the popularity of falafels in India.
Tell us about how you build your menu around Falafel?
We introduce variety every month as we don’t want all the falafels to taste the same. So we have a Greek falafel, which is totally different to a Mexican falafel. We also have a falafel with Chipotle mayo, which is quite popular. We will soon be launching cheese
burst stuffed falafel.
For kids we have the Pizza Sambusac – filo pastry with pizza fillings and cheesy french fries. They love it. We have recently introduced zataar bread. Zataar is one of the healthiest spice mixes from the Middle East.
We are also working on Chinese stuffed falafel, which will have the falafel stuffed with Manchurian. Another dish on the way is chocolate hummus with fruit skewers, which will be a dessert. So the idea is to surprise the customers with something new every time they walk in.
How much of the menu is Indianised?
We try to maintain a balance between authentic and Indianisation. While the base products like lettuce, tahini, hummus, etc remain the same, we have introduced some fusion in the dips. Like the sweet chilli dip, which is used for the Chinese falafel. For the Mexican falafel we use chipotle mayo, which is Mexican and has nothing to do with Lebanese. This helps us bring variety while catering to Indians who love to mix and match flavours.
What is the toughest thing in this business?
Two of the toughest things are maintaining food quality and controlling pilferage. QSR is a cash oriented business and you need to keep a strict eye on the cash counter. Falafel is all about assembly. You have to train your staff to assemble the dish in the same way across outlets so that the taste remains the same. When you expand, it is easy to lose your grip over consistency.