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Check out these exotic chocolates
Radhieka Pandeya | December 16, 2006
Chocolate is known to speak the language of love, yet its very presence can make the strongest of hearts melt into infidelity... for when your eyes see more than one variety, it is tough to stay loyal to a single flavour.
The raid of chocolate boutiques, designer chocolates and even imported chocolates has set up strong competition to the flower culture in India. And now with India on a health drive, sugar-free and healthy, nutritive chocolates are becoming the latest rage.
Five years ago, when Sanjeev Obhrai began Chocolatiers, a first-of-its-kind chocolate boutique in Delhi, family and friends opposed the idea since competition for Obhrai would come in the face of Cadbury's, Nestle and Amul.
But Obhrai had no intentions of competing with the obvious. In his own words, he was not making chocolates as pacifiers for small kids, but as delicacies for adults and so, he was competing with Indian sweets and soft drinks.
While traditional chocolate flavours like plain milk, nuts, truffle and white and dark chocolates can be found at every corner shop, wrapped up in bright packing, stacked in a transparent shelf, chocolate boutiques are coming up with exotic flavours that not only thrill the taste buds but are even wrapped to appeal.
So, while one moment you could have a chocolate bursting in your mouth with Bailey's oozing out of it, the next moment you could be savouring the taste of nutmeg and cloves infused with chocolate.
Mumbai-based Fantasie Chocolates, the chocolate boutique that has long enriched Indian taste buds, launched its premium line of handmade chocolates, Luxor, to mark its sixtieth anniversary. Priced at Rs 1,500 per kilo, the highlight of the line is its healthy collection that includes mint flakes, sugar-free dark roasted peanut chocolates, crystallised Indian gooseberry chocolate and the Indian spice chocolate.
Zeba Kohli, MD of Fantasie Chocolates says, "People are now travelling out more than ever and abroad they are able to savour a variety of chocolates. When they come back, they look for similar flavours and quality here. It is this awareness and demand that has made designer chocolates such a rage now."
Date-filled chocolates are a speciality at Chennai's Le Chocolatier that imports the famous Bateel dates from the Middle East and envelopes them in rich Belgian chocolate. The boutique has recently launched its sugar-free variety to cater to the diabetic and health conscious segment.
The chocolates range between Rs 800 and Rs 3,000 a kilo, depending on the kind of date being used.
In keeping with the Christmas spirit, every chocolate boutique in the country is moulding its chocolates in forms representative of the festival. So, you have Santa, Christmas trees, mistletoe, bells and even reindeer...all ready to melt in your mouth. Chef Daniel Koshy of the Chocolate Box at Radisson MBD is using imported coloured cocoa butter sheets to give the Christmas chocolates an authentic look.
"A lot of thought goes into innovating on flavours and chocolate designs. For Christmas we even have the Chocolate Gugelhopf, which is traditional Austrian bread covered with chocolate." Koshy likes to experiment with liquor chocolates.
Tia Maria, Cointreau, Bailey's, champagne and Creme de Mint are some of his hidden weapons.
While the much-loved Lindt & Sprungli chocolates are brought into India by Kohli's Fantasie Chocolates, Bateel's date chocolates and bars are available through Le Chocolatier.
Though brands that define chocolates - Toblerone, Ritter Sport, Mars, Snickers, Twix and Bounty - are now readily available, the finer selection for real chocolate lovers and appreciators is imported by designers.
Obhrai, for instance, creates what he calls "Single Origin Chocolates", his high end, most expensive brand that sells at Rs 2,500 per kilo. The variety's claim to fame is its origin - created from cocoa beans from one specific region, giving it a distinct flavour of that region. The Grand Cru Caribe, a blend of Triniterious cocoa beans from the Caribbean Islands, reveals the presence of almonds and roasted coffee with a fruity twist to it.
With an intense bouquet of red berries, the Grand Cru Manjari is made from crillos and trinitarious beans from Madagascar. With exotic names like these, and even more exotic origins, these chocolates are a delight for those who bite into their chocolates and don't simply pop them.
While creating a chocolate culture that is gradually replacing Indian sweets in homes, chocolate boutiques have also created a chocolate-gifting culture. And it's not just the flavour that does the trick, chocolate wrapping and packaging is being given equal attention. Chocola's Vasudha Munjal has created Christmas hampers that resemble a sledge and a log house.Says Kohli, "In terms of gifts designer chocolates are the rage. There is a segment of society that wants to gift only chocolates now."