The shop front gives away hardly any clues. Its name is even more cryptic. We stumbled on Jyoti Sales Corporation by chance and came away loving its aamras
Hemant Mehta (left) and Nirmal Mehta (right) with a client
The bustling neighbourhood of Tardeo is popular among foodies for Sardar pav bhaji — an Amul butter-soaked Mumbai favourite. Established in 1966, it is often regarded as the area’s oldest culinary landmark. That is until you spot a nondescript store a few blocks from the eatery. In fact, had it not been for a huge poster announcing the availability of its season special aamras, it could easily pass off as a mundane shop with a nondescript white counter selling anything but ice cream. Jyoti Sales Corporation is actually an ice cream parlour, as we discovered, that was established in 1927 at Fort’s Mint Road, and shifted to Tardeo’s Road Number 34 in 1966.
Success is in the name
“That’s exactly how my father named it,” laughs co-owner Hemant Mehta when we inquire about the unusual name for an ice cream parlour. “However, we are popularly known as Jyoti Ice Cream across the city.” Jyoti Ice Cream started as a milk supplier by Mehta’s grandfather Mohanlal in Fort. Hemant’s father, Shashikant took over the business in 1952, and introduced ice creams, basundi and aamras in the late 1960s, shortly after opening another branch in Tardeo. While the Fort branch remains named after his grandfather Mohanlal till date, and is currently managed by his uncle Nirmal’s son, Chandresh, they decided to name the space in Tardeo after the eldest child in the family — Jyoti. Since then, it’s been a successful ride for the Mehtas.
They produce two tonnes of aamras at the factory every hour
“We began with a small 100 sq feet store in Fort, and now own a 4,000 sq ft factory in Tardeo and two retail shops, one in each location,” beams Hemant. “We mainly sell in bulk to wedding caterers. The retail shops are for customers who continue to enjoy our ice creams and aamras.” However, it is not feasible for a wholesaler to sell ice cream in scoops. Hence, they sell only party and family packs. While seasonal mango and strawberry ice creams are bestsellers, they are also known for their basundi, a winter favourite, and shahi gulab ice cream. “There’s a lot of competition,” he admits, adding that they remain a name to reckon with when it comes to good-quality aamras. “By the end of the three-month season, we sell it in tonnes not only in India but across the world like the US, Hong Kong and Israel, among other places.” A matter of pride for the 56-year-old co-owner is that, of the many celebrity weddings that served their products, Jackie Shroff’s wedding was one.
His parting note explains the secret to their success for over nine decades, “Never compromise on quality, even if it means having to sell at a higher price. Consumers always recognise good quality and eventually come around.”
AT Jyoti Sales Corporation, 96, Road number 34, Tardeo.
TIME 8 am to 8 pm
Peru shrikhand; (right) magic malai ice cream
We visit the Tardeo outlet on a hot Saturday morning. While most of the locality kick-starts its day after 12 pm, this shop starts attracting customers since
8 am. We ask for a scoop of magic malai ice cream only to learn that they sell it in party packs. On the recommendation of a few customers, we buy half a kg of hapus aamras (Rs 180), magic malai ice cream (Rs 200) and peru shrikhand (Rs 200). The items are chilled, almost frozen. The staffer explains, “We have customers from as far as Virar and Thane; and given the high temperatures, chilling the products ensures that they survive the journey.” The malai ice cream is crunchy and creamy, like a homemade version. To test the veracity of his statement, we carry shrikhand and aamras to the mid-day newsroom in Kalanagar and taste it by evening. The aamras stays fresh and thick, while the peru shrikhand — which was supposed to be firm and gooey, turns into a thick liquid after being exposed to room temperature. The taste, nonetheless, remains uncompromised.