L Nitin Chordia is India’s first and only certified chocolate taster, having obtained a chocolate tasting certificate in the UK from Seventy% run by Martin Christy. He is a judge at the International Chocolate Awards and operates 'Cocoatrait', a chocolate tasting club in India.
‘Easy to fool’
“I don’t see any multinational company catering to Indian taste or preferences except with vegetarian chocolate,” he said in an interview with ConfectioneryNews.
He speculated why manufacturers had not been more experimental in the world’s fastest growing chocolate market.
“Indian consumers are the easiest to fool – if you package a bar of chocolate well, people assume it’s a good chocolate,” he said of his countrymen. “Because people don’t eat enough chocolate they assume anything that’s imported and priced highly is good chocolate.”
History of spice
Chordia is trying to change the way Indians perceive chocolate through his non-profit chocolate tasting club. The organization runs events such as Chocolate Pairing Week, where chefs create dishes combining Belgian chocolate with various cuisines.
“If you look at the history of India – we consume a lot of spices and chili is consumed in many dishes. Afterwards you temper your palate with a sweet – we’ve been doing this for centuries,” said Chordia.
“I believe this is going to be tremendous opportunity to include Indian spices with chocolate and even generic spices like chili for example. Chili goes very well with chocolate when used in light moderation.”
Lindt for example has a chocolate with chili that sells in India, but it was developed in Europe and later brought to the Indian market rather than being a product developed specifically for Indian tastes.
A recent report by ValueNotes said that premium chocolate demand in India was due to outpace demand for economical and medium price chocolates as consumer preferences shifted to branded and foreign chocolate. ValueNotes expects the Indian chocolate market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the next five years to reach INR 122bn ($2bn) by fiscal 2019.
Chordia, who previously advised premium Indian retailer Godrej Nature’s Basket, identified other spices that may tap into the premium chocolate boom.
“Green cumin is used in many of our dish preparations but it also goes very well with chocolate,” he said.
He added that saffron and star anise also combined well with chocolate. “We have a lot of spices that are too harsh but these are more delicate.” He said garam masala for example was too overpowering.
Governmental body the Spices Board India has expressed interest spiced chocolates. Last year it invited proposals from manufacturers to produce natural spice flavored chocolates using ingredients such as cardoman, mace and cumin.