International Chocolate Day 2024: Discover 5 exquisite Indian chocolate brands that showcase incredible flavours of Indian cacao beans

Indian chocolatiers craft artisanal chocolates that honour a rich heritage, offering a delightful array of chocolate creations to savour
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Image for representational purpose

The history of the cacao bean traces back to the Olmecs of southern Mexico, an ancient Mesoamerican civilization. Revered by the Mayans and the Aztecs, the cacao bean held a sacred place in rituals and festivities. The Aztecs considered it more valuable than gold, a divine gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of creation.

Used as currency by the Aztecs, cacao beans were also cherished for their energy-boosting qualities, with Aztec ruler Montezuma II using the cacao beverage as an aphrodisiac. As Spanish conquistadors brought chocolate to the world, from its origin as 'xocolātl', meaning ‘bitter water’, it evolved into the beloved treat we know today. Now, Indian chocolatiers craft artisanal chocolates that honour this rich heritage, offering a delightful array of chocolate creations to savour.

MANAM, HYDERABAD

At its flagship store, a tablet-shaped door symbolises the blend of Hyderabad’s tech prowess with the artistry of Indian craft chocolate. After thirteen years of transforming the Indian sweets and snacks industry at Almond House, Chaitanya Muppala now delves into chocolate, drawing from his experience to create an indigenous chocolate brand with global impact. At Manam Karkhana, a lavish 10,100 sqft space, visitors can explore a diverse array of treats and experience chocolate-making first-hand. As you wander through Manam Karkhana, you’ll uncover a diverse range of over 250 chocolate products across 45 categories crafted by chef Ruby Islam, blending her patisserie skills from the ITC group with Manam’s mission to redefine chocolate conventions. From global-inspired treats to the unique Single Farm Series honouring local farmers, each creation tells a story of dedication and innovation. When chocolate is imbued with the essence of the land, woven into narratives that aim to transform farmers’ lives, it captivates effortlessly.

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MOZIMO, CHANDIGARH

Fuelled by a deep love for sweets, the visionary owners Priyanka Gupta and Amritanshu Agrawal crafted Mozimo café, in 2023, which emerged as Chandigarh’s avant-garde café, pioneering India’s finest European bean-to-bar artisanal chocolates. Beyond confection, Mozimo curates a lavish chocolate journey, from textured barks to velvety bars, enticing with diverse flavours and exquisite presentation. They cater to chocolate lovers, focusing on innovation and sustainability and create luxurious treats that delight the senses, all while promoting eco-friendly practices. With a commitment to using premium cocoa from ethical sources, they champion zero preservatives and plastic-free packaging. Experience their European-inspired chocolates at their inviting Chandigarh Cafe. Witnessing the meticulous journey in their in-house chocolate factory reveals the art of chocolate making, from sourcing cocoa in South of India to refining with European techniques. The magic continues in their chocolate ageing cellar, where time and care transform chocolates into pure bliss.

PAUL AND MIKE, KOCHI

In the charming city of Kochi, Paul and Mike are combining Indian fruits such as jamun, sitaphal, and Alphonso mangoes to create tantalising chocolate bars. Their vision extends beyond crafting delectable treats and has gone carbon-positive. Going beyond just chocolate-making, they are revolutionising the quality of Indian cacao beans through innovative fermentation and processing methods. Amid tough times in the cocoa industry, they stand out as pillars of stability, resilience, and community backing. In 2016, Vikas Temani researched in Latin America and India for strategic response. After planting cocoa trees sustainably for three years in Kochi and Coimbatore, they launched their brand in 2019, showcasing proactive planning. With advanced agricultural methods and an expert team, including a cocoa PhD holder, their farms stay strong amidst challenges. They smartly source much of their cocoa from well-tended farms in Kochi and Coimbatore, confidently managing soaring input expenses. Utilizing advanced farming methods like precise irrigation and pest control, they maintain top-notch quality and sustainability in their cocoa sourcing. In a show of solidarity, they support small chocolate makers and home bakers during the cocoa crisis. They are also providing cocoa beans and baking chocolate at previous prices to aid these artisans, reflecting their commitment to unity and resilience in the cocoa industry.

SOKLET, POLLACHI

Based in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district, Soklet is a tree-to-bar chocolate producer. They exclusively source cocoa beans from their Regal plantations nestled in the foothills of the Anaimalai Hills. Soklet oversees every step of chocolate production, from nurturing cacao trees to crafting speciality bars like Spiced, Hibiscus, and Desi Rabdi. They exercise full mastery over the art of chocolate crafting, producing exquisite Indian chocolates that highlight the rich flavours of locally sourced cocoa beans in a variety of enticing flavours. Additionally, the brand offers snackable cacao nibs, high-quality couverture chocolate, and indulgent drinking chocolate, catering to a wide range of preferences and desires.

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BON FICTION, HYDERABAD

These chocolates from India represent a blend of quality and innovation that has garnered international attention. The flavours Out in The Dark and Mango Menace, awarded bronze in the Tree to Bar Flavoured category by the esteemed Academy of Chocolate, have elevated it to global recognition and acclaim. Co-founder Prathina Grandhi cites it as a reinforcement of their dedication to crafting world-class chocolates within India. Mango Menace combines the richness of dark chocolate with the vibrant flavours of mango and a subtle hint of chilli, while Out in The Dark presents a bold 73% dark chocolate experience. These flavours are among the meticulously curated range of 14 varieties, all crafted sustainably using locally sourced cacao from Andhra Pradesh’s Godavari River region. The Academy of Chocolate, known for its promotion of chocolate significance and craft, is composed of leading experts in the field who rigorously assess chocolates worldwide. Bon Fiction’s double bronze win underscores their commitment to excellence and sustainability in chocolate making, utilising India’s rich agricultural resources to create exceptional products recognized on a global stage.

Story by Rupali Dean

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