Indians have a massive sweet tooth, and the proof is in the booming demand and consumption of chocolate. With the young population’s taste for indulgence, the amount of chocolate sold to Indians has nearly tripled over the past decade. In India, chocolate has traditionally been seen as a treat for kids. But, marketers are now specifically targeting adults, and their efforts are paying off. Chocolates now grace the most auspicious occasions in India, be it festivals like Diwali, weddings, anniversaries or birthdays, no one can ever go wrong with chocolates, always being a potential sweet gesture. We still don’t know what makes chocolate so irresistible, for all we know, it’s the perfect orosensory experience to seduce the palate. While they come with their own health benefits if consumed in the right form, recent studies suggest that chocolate especially dark chocolate contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
1. ARAKU VALLEY COFFEE CHOCOLATES AT ANDHRA PRADESH
Indulge in an excellent world of coffee at this exceptional cafe-cum-museum in the Araku valley. This unique museum is an intrinsic part of an exclusive coffee house that serves coffee, chocolates, sandwiches, brownies and more. Araku is a small town, and a centre of tourism in the south belt with its rich flora and fauna. While the weather facilitates the requirements for a perfect holiday, this coffee house serves around 600 varieties of coffee based chocolates, brownies, mousses and tarts to taste as well as to take back home. Their menu which is filled with coffees and coffee-based drinks only gets you drooling more. Until recently this coffee haven was open only to foreign delegates and coffee traders, however now it has thrown open it’s doors to all, probably due to the uniqueness of coffee produced in Araku that deserves to be experienced by all.
2. KING STAR CONFECTIONERIES AT OOTY
The famous hill station of Ooty is not only known for its scenic beauty but also as a land of India’s premium quality hand-made chocolates. The Kingstar Confectionery at Ooty is a pioneer in homemade chocolate and has been making delicious exotic homemade chocolates since 1942, their speciality being fudge and truffle. Offering a great assortment of homemade chocolates that include rum ‘n’ raisin, fruit ‘n’ nut, roasted almonds, fig ‘n’ honey, milk chocolate, coffee chocolate, dark chocolate varieties, sugar-free varieties and others. Some really popular chocolate bars to be savoured from this store include almond and raisin, butterscotch, fruit and nut, roasted almond, rum and raisins and whole cashew nut bars. They also stack a great set of fudges that include chocolate, pista, almond and others. Apart from regular plain chocolate, you get interesting varieties like strawberry, fig, mango, and blackcurrant. For the health conscious and diabetes patients, they offer sugar-free chocolates. What more do you want? Also, don’t forget to try the traditional Ooty biscuits called Varkey.
3. CHOCOLATE FACTORIES AT KODAIKANAL
Kodaikanal, another common tourist spot is home to some of the biggest chocolate producing factories in India, namely the SV and SG cottage industries, and the Kodai chocolate factory specializing in making a wide range of delicious homemade chocolate. From coffee bean chocolates to fruit flavoured chocolate to chocolate layered with nuts, you’ll find it all in Kodaikanal. Places like Pot Luck, Cloud Street, Chocolate Factory or SG Cottage Industries are a must visit due to the sheer variety of chocolates these places present. There are also a number of eateries that serve amazing chocolate delicacies.
4. RAW ARTISAN CHOCOLATES
Karnataka with it’s extensive cocoa plantations formed an ideal ground for David Belo and Angelika Anagnostou, for their new experiment with chocolate. Once Belo had decided to shift to India, his prime focus was to popularize the wonderful Indian cocoa on a global level. All Earth Loaf products are handled by hand, from the cacao bean to tempering and wrapping. The chocolates are priced at around Rs 270 for a 72 gm bar while being distributed via organic stores across the country while they also have an online store. But if you bite into one, you’re bound to sit back and experience true bliss. This chocolate delicacy is flavorful as well as organic retaining the health benefits naturally present in cacao. The Earth Loaf chocolates are made of two primary ingredients — organic cacao beans and organic palmyra sugar.
5. MASON AND CO. DARK CHOCOLATE
Little did young Jane Mason know that her career exploration would lead her to becoming a chocolate maker. But why chocolates, you would ask. Well, Jane being a vegan and a bit of a health nut, could not initially eat any of the chocolate found here in India due to the excessive usage of milk, sugar, and other preservatives. She thought it did not promote the sustainable and organic process that she valued and that is exactly what prompted her to team up with a cacao farmer from Tamil Nadu and thus originated Jane’s own range of organic vegan chocolates. Mason & Co. is an organic and vegan bean-to-bar chocolate company, founded in 2014, at Auroville, Tamil Nadu that makes chocolates directly from the raw cacao bean, by hand, in their artisan factory in Auroville. The duo offer eight kinds of chocolate bars, made from single origin Indian cacao, such as coconut milk dark chocolate (55 per cent), roasted cashew dark chocolate (6per cent), semi-sweet dark chocolate (65 per cent), cacao chip dark chocolate (70 per cent), chilli and cinnamon dark chocolate ( 70 per cent), sea salt dark chocolate (70 per cent), bittersweet dark chocolate (75 per cent) and zesty orange dark chocolate (75 per cent).
6. BEAN THERAPY
The company employs raw ingredients like black pepper, Himalayan rock salt and Guntur chilli, sourcing their chikki from Maganlal in Lonavla — a mammoth chain that specialises in making traditional sweet of peanuts and jaggery. They are not any less authentic when it comes to everything being handcrafted, made in small batches, with skilled labor, probably why the founder, Solomon makes only four or five new flavours in an entire year. While prices start from Rs. 240, one of the most distinct features of his handmade chocolates are apparently its imperfections, he says the mango he uses is not powdered but chopped and the pepper, with each grain different. One of his popular flavours is elaichi saunf – a mouth freshener several communities keep handy to pop in after meals. Similarly, his mix of chocolate and chikki is a hit in Mumbai.