There was rarely anyone of my age who hadn’t developed a crush on that famous Cadbury girl. And remember that background song – kuchh Khas hai hum sabhi mein? Growing up in India, chocolate was Cadbury’s dairy milk and Amul chocolates which came in beautiful Golden foils.
Till such time I tasted Ferro Rocher from a shop near Metro Cinema Hall, I couldn’t think any other chocolate could be better than dairy milk. I fell in love with it though it was sweet. While in Switzerland, a visit to a Lindt shop opened a new world for me. I got to taste the 70 percent and chocolate truffles and that was an eye-opener for me as to what real chocolate was. However, these were industrialized premium chocolates. There have been several bean-to-bar artisanal chocolate producers in the world. India soon caught up with the trend and Kocoatrait followed.
Cocoashala and Kocoatrait – A journey of a dreamer on an unchartered path
The story of L Nitin Chordia is interesting as well as inspiring. He was exposed to the finest Bean to Bar chocolates on behalf of Godrej’s Nature’s Basket. And his life started as a Chocolate taster. After a 3 year stint in the US, he then decided to open Cocoashala, the school where he taught people to make bean-to-bar chocolates. Later in 2019, he launched his brand of chocolates- Kocoatrait. Kocoatrait is the world’s first zero-waste and sustainable bean to bar chocolate, as he confirms. Zero-waste means that other than chocolate, the foil wrapping and the outer wrapping can be reused and in no way, the planet is harmed.
A journey that was absolutely new, meant unchartered territories that came with their own challenges. So Nitin and his wife Poonam, focused on creating Indian solutions for all the processes. As he says, there have been hits and misses and perhaps more hits than misses. However, he ensured that he brought in new dimensions to chocolates. Some of the new flavours that he introduced are – Red Rose, Sukku coffee, Brownie Dark milk chocolate, Lemongrass, Banana, Jasmine and Mor Molaga (fermented dried green chili) chocolate from their Madras Collection. Each chocolate has its own story and encourages conversation. Red rose flavour born when they wanted to introduce Ayurvedic elements. Lemongrass flavoured chocolate was introduced to include a popular herb into the chocolate. The increasing popularity of Thai cuisine meant a bar of chocolate with Thai flavours. There are many such stories that Nitin can share endlessly.
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New flavours at Kocoatrait and the new range of Spice Collection
Rushina M Ghildiyal has been running her Spice Chronicles for almost a year now. Live interactions on Instagram covering local spices and their uses across India – that’s almost like a thesis paper. In the process, many layers of Indian cuisine have unfolded in front of us. The spice chronicles inspired Nitin and Poonam to introduce Spice Collection. After that, Rushina and Poonam worked on the flavours over months and finally came up with a series. Innovation and the introduction of new flavours are cornerstones of Kocoatrait. As I spoke with Nitin, he shared, in the past, they have introduced Banana Dark chocolate which had no banana pieces in the chocolate but the fruit was blended along with chocolate. Jasmine flavour had 2 varieties of Jasmine with single-origin of cocoa beans overnight. Few such innovations have been incorporated in the new collection too.
The online tasting session of the Spice Collection
We were a part of an online tasting session with Rushina, Poonam (co-owner of Kocoatrait) and Nitin. The purpose of introducing this range was to invite conversations. A box 9 chocolates arrived that had-
- White chocolate saffron
- 46% Milk chocolate Fenugreek and Sea Salt
- 64% dark chocolate Mace
- 33% Milk chocolate rose, Pistachio and Fennel
- White chocolate green chili curry leaf and coconut
- 70% dark chocolate – Star Anise, Guntur Chili, Sea Salt and Mango
- 65 % dark chocolate Masala Chai
- 64% Dark chocolate Sukku Coffee
- 46% Milk chocolate Thandai.
I bet you haven’t even imagined some of these flavours before. Again, it will be foolish to pass my judgment over here, as liking a particular flavour is very subjective and personal. When we started, we were told to keep an open mind and to have an honest opinion. Additionally, it was not necessary for everyone to like all the flavours and that the conversation was equally important. Exactly that happened as the group was divided over the tastes. At first, I finished the white chocolate saffron in no time. Unlike most in the group, Fenugreek and Sea Salt flavour didn’t sit well with us. Additionally, it reminded me of Achar ka Dabba. The dark chocolate Mace was an instant hit and never before I had tasted curry leaves, green chili and coconut flavour in a bar of chocolate. And yes, to my surprise the taste grew on me.
From twenty to the final 9
If we look at the collection, there is Mace, Star Anise, Sukku coffee, Saffron, Thandai (a flavour in itself which has an amalgamation of almonds, peppercorns, poppy seeds, cardamom, fennel), Pistachio, Fennel; each one is a star in their own rights. There were around 20 flavours to start with and subsequently, after multiple rounds of tasting, the final 9 went into production. An incredible job and one of the best outcomes of #SpiceChronicleswithRMG, we have a set of unusual flavours in chocolate that will make you think.
So, if you are a chocolate lover then don’t miss the chance to taste them. Available here
Some Tips before signing off
If you are a chocolate enthusiast yet not very much aware of the nuances like me, remember –
- White chocolate is not chocolate but perhaps a glorified Indian mithai Khoa
- Chocolate grows on trees. 1 cacao fruit has 40 seeds or cocoa beans approximately, which incidentally is the amount needed to make a chocolate bar
- Indian stone grinders are worldwide used for making premium chocolates
- Kocoatrait doesn’t use any oil for flavouring. All the flavours and smells are natural dried ingredients.
- In order to assess the quality of the chocolate, one has to allow it to melt in the mouth rather than bite or chew.
- Perfect chocolate will mean a perfect balance and harmony between cacao, sugar and any added flavour.
- Finally, like a good short story or a perfect write-up – good chocolate should leave a good lingering after-taste in the mouth.
I can only say – Baat hai, Khas Hai, kya swad hai chocolate mein ….
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