On World Chocolate Day, Chefs Reveal Why Chocolate Is A “Sentimental Ingredient” & How India Is Eating Chocolate Differently

To celebrate World Chocolate Day on July 7, Curly Tales spoke to renowned chocolatiers and chefs of India.

by Sanjana Shenoy
On World Chocolate Day, Chefs Reveal Why Chocolate Is A “Sentimental Ingredient” & How India Is Eating Chocolate Differently

“Chocolate is the definition of a smile,” says Yauatcha’s Executive Chef Ganesh Bodake in an exclusive interaction with Curly Tales ahead of World Chocolate Day. Truer words haven’t been spoken! July 7 marks World Chocolate Day (and it falls on a Sunday)! This means it’s time to let chocolates (once again) be the reason for our smiles. To celebrate World Chocolate Day, we talked to renowned chocolatiers and chefs of India about the trends they’ve noticed in the way people consume chocolates and how their perception of this ingredient has evolved over the years.

“Chocolate Is More Smile-Generating Than Anything Else In The Market”

Think “chocolate” and most of us instantly reminisce fond memories associated with it. Chocolate birthday cake from a local bakery; distributing “Cadbury” at school; or even Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

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Picture Credits: Supplied L to R: Ganesh Bodake; Agnibh Mudi; Roberto Apa and Mahesh Pal Singh

Ask chefs, what makes chocolate so special that it evokes emotions in eaters.

Bodake attributes it to dopamine release. “It’s more smile-generating than anything else in the market,” explains the Executive Chef of Yauatcha (Bengaluru).

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Picture Credits: Supplied (SMOOR’s Salted Peanut Barks)

Chef Mahesh Pal Singh, Head Chocolatier, SMOOR quips, “It (chocolate) is more than just an ingredient; it represents celebration, happiness, and indulgence. Unlike candies, which are primarily for consumption, chocolate is increasingly purchased for personal enjoyment, reflecting a shift towards self-care and luxury.”

For One8 Commune’s (Bengaluru) Chef Agnibh Mudi, chocolate is linked to happy memories. Apart from emphasising on compounds like phenylethylamine and anandamide, which are key reasons for the feel-good factor about the treat, Mudi calls it a “sentimental ingredient,” as it’s tied to personal experiences.

Also Read: Celebrating Local Flavours, Indian-Origin Chocolates Surge In Popularity, Says 76.9% Of Experts

From Dairy Milk To 5 Star, Chefs Reveal Their Fave Chocolates

Since chocolate is undoubtedly tied to personal experiences, we asked the chefs about their childhood favourites. For Mudi, it’s 5 Star and Cadbury Crackle. Other than the chocolate itself,  the One8Commune chef’s preferences have always been about the different elements and textures inside the chocolate like caramel and nuts.

“My favourite chocolate was Dairy Milk,” says Bodake. He reminiscences a childhood memory. “We used to save our pocket money to buy Dairy Milk and that was our weekend treat growing up, that even stemmed my journey of becoming a pastry chef.”

Chef Mahesh Pal Singh of SMOOR fame says his favourite chocolate was the classic milk chocolate bar which he cherished for its creamy texture, and rich and sweet flavour.

Roberto Apa, Sous Chef of The Leela Bhartiya City says, My favourite chocolate growing up has always been dark chocolate, as I always loved bitter flavours more than sweet ones.”

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Picture Credits: Supplied (The Leela Bhartiya City’s Bitter Chocolate Orange Pave)

Has their perception of chocolates evolved over the years? The chefs answer in the affirmative.

“Initially, I appreciated chocolates for their indulgence. However, as the category evolved, I now value simplicity and authenticity,” says Singh.

Chocolate made with natural ingredients devoid of preservatives is Singh’s preference. “Where the true taste of cocoa and natural ingredients is celebrated.

For Bodake and Mudi, chocolate has evolved into a vessel for innovation. When Bodake started his pastry career over 20 years ago, compound chocolate was a rarity in India. He recollects the time when the artisanal chocolate wave took over India.

Mudi believes that changes in consumer preferences and values are driving the evolution of the chocolate industry. He says that customers now demand chocolates to have potential health benefits. He gives dark chocolate with high cocoa, as an example. Many look forward to new and exciting flavours like matcha, and they are willing to pay the price for it.

Also Read: Travel To These 6 Destinations For World’s Best Artisanal Chocolates

A Shift Towards Healthy Indulgences

So, this World Chocolate Day, is there a trend they’ve noticed in the way people consume chocolate or order a chocolate dessert?

SMOOR’s Chef Mahesh Pal Singh replies, “Consumers are increasingly favouring clean label chocolates for their simplicity and transparency.” At SMOOR, the head chocolatier stresses that they’re offering plant-based and vegan chocolates apart from reducing added sugars to enhance flavours. They focus on catering to the modern consumer’s desire for health-conscious indulgence and environmental responsibility.

With a similar outlook, One8Commune’s (Bengaluru) Chef Agnibh Mudi points out that consumers desire premium experiences without compromising on their well-being, the health of others and the planet. “They are actively looking for healthy indulgences and seeking experiences that are exclusive, unique, multi-sensorial and celebratory to enhance the joy of eating chocolates,” he tells us.

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Picture Credits: Supplied ( One8 Commune’s Chocolate Sacher Cake with Coffee Ice Cream)

Chef Roberto Apa, Sous Chef of The Leela Bhartiya City explains how the trend towards experiential dining has changed (chocolate) desserts. “Interactive, theatrical presentations and multi-sensory elements have become popular in dessert bars and high-end restaurants,” he says.

“People have started liking more complex flavours such as dark bitter salted caramel,” shares Chef Ganesh Bodake (Yauatcha). He stresses on the health-conscious trend of chocolate eating that has taken over. “We see a lot of our guests asking for sugar-free chocolates or dairy-free chocolates as well,” says Bodake.

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Picture Credits: Supplied (Yauatcha’s Chocolate Pebble)

The Yauatcha Chef signs off with a hint about what could be the next artisanal chocolate flavour to enter the Indian market.

“Truffle-infused chocolates have hit the market in Europe, making us think, where will the new trend lead us?” he signs off.

Cover Image Courtesy: Supplied (SMOOR and The Leela Bhartiya City)

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