I have to confess to a vested interest in Devnaa. But in my defence, I only let myself get entangled with the brother and sister duo in the first instance because their products are so damned delish. And because Devnaa is one of the few companies to combine the two parts that wholly consume my heart – Indian food and chocolate.
In my capacity as @TheSpiceScribe, I first encountered Jay and Roopa Rawal hawking their wares at the annual Taste of India market on the Southbank. It was a whirlwind romance – I was head over heels in a heartbeat. Since I took that first fatal taste, I’ve eaten the truffles, drunk the hot chocolate, and even copyedited the second Devnaa cookbook on Gujarati veggie home cooking.
But then I got wind that there was something fresh a-cooking in the Devnaa kitchen – a new signature chocolate collection. One I’d not tried. We can’t have that. Goodness, no. As with all the brands I’m a long-term fan of, I see my role as self-recruited quality controller as valid and very necessary. Please understand, it’s purely a public service. Nothing whatsoever to do with me just wanting to get stuck right in.
However, we’re talking knee-trembling, earth-shaking, worlds-colliding stuff for me here. Devnaa’s delicacies combine the best elements of fancy-pants Belgian-style chocs – pretty presentation; an indulgent cloaking in dark, milk or white chocolate – with incredible Indian mithai (the name for the whole spectrum of subcontinental sweetmeats). So yes, on this occasion, you may indeed infer that I was somewhat keen to sample.
It’s only right that Devnaa nestles the chocs resembling delectable dainty jewels in boxes that would be quite at home on a dressing table. As with the chocolates themselves, the brand’s packaging looks to India for inspiration; all hot orange, zesty lime green, eye-popping pink and plush purple. Gold-embossed paisley patterns on the wrap-strap fancifies the boxes further. There’s a cheeky hint of the tiffin tin about the whole affair, but this lovely lunchbox would be fit for only a Maharajah.
If you’re unaccustomed to munching mithai you might well find the supersweet treats make you feel slightly sick. Blocks of burfi can cause you to come over a bit barfi yourself. But you’ll find no such ill effects from Devnaa’s fudge-like fancies. The burfi in this box is creamy, rich and indulgent but melts to nothing on the tongue. If you’ve tried those Magnum ‘no-ice cream’ chocolates, you’ll know that a good dunking in choc makes this kind of milky middle rock.
Burfis in this box are a subtly-spiced and very nice honey & cardamom, and the mango that fair sends your mouth into a fandango. There’s more fruit to be found in a punchy passion fruit caramel. Devnaa does know its way around a cracking caramel. All the specimens in this selection tap into the trend for spiking your sweet with salt, the caramel’s beautiful buttery salinity flattering the flavours found in the coconut & cardamom, saffron and pistachio and justly-award-winning chai masala chocolates.
Pralines are just as perfect. Remember when nabbing the foil-wrapped Green Triangle from a tin of Quality Street was as glam as it got? Those waxy little numbers have nothing on Devnaa’s melty-middled marvels. I can’t decide which praline flavour I favour the most; orange and almond, or the cinnamon-kissed cube lightened up with the airy crunch of puffed rice. It’s lucky, then, that this collection contains two of every single chocolate. This quality controller will just have to give them all another go.