When you know that my two specialisms are Indian food and chocolate, it will come as no surprise that I’m always on the lookout for cocoa creations with a pronounced South Asian accent. So, with Desi-fied designs in mind, I set out to find the UK’s finest examples. Whether spiked with subcontinental spice or bringing the heat, these Indian-inspired treats are hard to beat…
Aneesh Popat‘s creations are royally good – so good, in fact, that they’re merrily munched by members of the monarchy the world over. His work with water ganache wasn’t down to a dietary demand; rather, his mum’s preference for pure, punchy flavours that were undulled by dairy. South Asian-style ingredients like candied fennel seeds, chaat masala, and even crushed poppadoms feature prominently. India also influences his edible art; the fashion show at last year’s Chocolate Show showcased his ‘sari du chocolate‘, complete with cocoa-based jewellery and mendhi.
Aluva manoeuvred into the market after an intensive incubation process with the School For Creative Start-Ups, announcing itself as the UK’s first Halal-certified chocolate company. Whether you find that kind of thing important, make up your own mind if these treats worth eating with a selection of the Indian-inspired creations that appear across a range comprising hand-rolled truffles, moulded chocolates, and individually wrapped ingots in flavours including pistachio & rose, saffron & cardamom, and chilli & lemon.
Paul Tomlinson is a lovely lad with an insatiable appetite for both chocolate and travel – and Cocoa Hernando‘s creation enabled him to combines his two primary passions. Each item in the range is inspired by a certain world destination, both in terms of flavour and packaging. It was in India that the idea came about: more specifically, whilst supping a cup of masala chai on the Netravati Express train travelling through Kerala in 2012. Paul’s success with capturing in chocolate every single element of the spicy-sweet, milky tea still stuns me each time I taste the bright red-wrapped, rikshaw-etched bar. Three years down the line, that pioneer product is now joined by a further four flavours, including a Himalayan Pink Diamond salted specimen.
Zotter‘s creations are frequently weird, often wonderful, and, on occasion, Indian-influenced. The company is one of the few to use Kerala-grown cocoa; showcased in the earthy, elemental Labooko 62% ‘India’ bar. Other Indian innovations are culturally-inspired; like Hand-scooped ‘Ayurvedic Relaxation System’, ‘Saffron & Pistachios’, or ‘Namaste India‘ bars, filled respectively with sesame, ginger and dates; marzipan and spiced ganache; and ginger, cardamom, chilli and sugarcane liqueur – or the CD-shaped, masala chai-flavoured Mitzi Blue disk.
Sometimes a little novelty is a lot of fun – as is the case with Asif Walli’s range. The chocolates are a brand extension that builds upon Duke of Delhi‘s original line of gourmet snack blends; the bars blending the salty, savoury ‘Delhi mix’ into sweet, spiced milk and dark chocolate. Well-textured and quirky, these bars could easily go from tasty treats to incredible eats were a well-chosen single-origin chocolate chosen to flatter each flavour. As are, they’re a conversation-starting, diverting delicacy – opt for the cardamom and vanilla version first.
I first spotted Anoop’s creations when snooping around Instagram like a pig hunting truffles – of the chocolate kind, of course. The twenty eight year-old Berkshire-based upstart makes to order, and is now seemingly branching out into biscuits that are enrobed in an much chocolate as their physical engineering will permit. Indian-accented flavours include kesar kulfi; whisky; hibiscus, lemon, berry and poppy seed; pistachio; and even the beguilingly-named ‘The South Indian’.
As you might infer from the company name, The East India works with many wares from its country of origin to spice up luxurious fine foods of all kinds – including chocolate. There’s quite a lot of choc on offer, but best are bars infused or inlaid with aromatics. Classics from the Spice Selection include Nutmeg chocolate that tastes like egg custard tarts and a fennel seed-flavoured dark delicacy inspired by Indian mouth-freshening mixture, Mukhwas. Newly on-shelf and worth treating yourself to are bars with ‘Governor Aungier’s Bombay Chai’ and Coffee & Cardamom.
Whether you love the myriad sweetmeats known as mithai, or are new to Indian confections, Devnaa’s fusion treats present them in an entirely new manner; the jewel-bright packaging taking tiffin boxes as inspiration. Caramels, fudges and ganaches reference well-loved Indian ingredients like rose, saffron, and masala chai; their fragrant flavours offset against Belgian chocolate cloaks. The burfis – classic milk-based sweets – are terrifically tender; always saved ’til last and savoured richly in my household.
- To read my piece on the British-Indian and Indian chocolate scenes for DESIblitz, click here
- To read about Indian sweets on Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe, click here
- For the recipe for my Bombay Bad Boy chocolate cheesecake, click here
- To read more on The Chocolatier, click here
- To read more about Duke of Delhi, click here
- To read more on Devnaa, click here
- To read more on The East India Company, click here