Indians have always known to have a sweet tooth and chocolates are slowly replacing the traditional Indian sweets as the favourite treat for the urban palette.
Celebrating this love for chocolate, we speak to some chocolatiers and chocolate shop owners in the city on the occasion of International Chocolate Day.
Many feel that it is an exciting time for the chocolate industry throughout the world and though Bangalore has evolved over the years, it still has a long way to go when compared to metros like Mumbai or Delhi.
Anupama Amarnath, a chocolatier and owner of a popular chocolate shop in Ulsoor has been in the business for the last 16 years. Their assorted chocolates are popular among their customers and their premium hand-dipped chocolate range is their signature offering.
She says,"My husband is a chocoholic and I started making chocolates as a hobby in 1998 and went for a hobby course in Mumbai.
" Anupama feels that business has been good, but there are a lot of players in the industry today and only a few are serious about it. "It is serious business and not a home industry anymore. The sales went down a few years ago due to factors like recession. But later it picked up.
Chocolates have definitely taken over our traditional sweets since people are conscious about shelf life, freshness and calories they consume. We have over 300 varieties of chocolate with more than 1000 designs and we also have the sugar free range.
We source our materials from Belgium and Singapore. Bangalore is the most happening place for chocolates.If you compare with Delhi and Mumbai too, I feel we are better because there people are more concerned about the design and packaging whereas we care more about the quality of chocolate.
" But, chef and art connoisseur Essmath Khaleeli, who calls herself a 'selective chocoholic' begs to differ. She feels that Delhi and Mumbai has a bigger market because of their higher purchasing power.
"They can purchase much more and clearly they can do better because the market there can afford to buy it. I feel that Bangalore has got loads of potential. But, the raw products are not easily accessible and hence its difficult for chocolate makers to get the same kind of consistency every time.
Our market is not responsive. Lets get real! How many people on the road can afford to buy a small box of fine chocolates? It is just not viable.
" She adds," Bangalore has exquisite standards. I don't like milk chocolates because it gets contaminated easily and that doesn't work for me. I prefer good dark chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa. I prefer Belgium chocolates to Swiss chocolates." Over 70 per cent of chocolate consumption takes place in the urban areas.
Chocolate consumption in the rural areas is negligible in India. Essmath feels that we have still not reached that stage where chocolates have replaced Indian sweets.
Echoing a similar sentiment, entrepreneur Ema Trinidad, who is also a founder of a social group of Expats says, "Imported chocolates are expensive and even the raw materials used in the fine chocolates add to the cost of the chocolate.
So I don't know how responsive the market here is. Indians do have a sweet tooth, but I feel that the chocolate market still has a long way to go. What I have noticed is that the quality is different here.
Its not as pure and it is kind of diluted." Nirmala Arokia, who worked as a nurse in the US and did a course to be a pastry chef, took over her friend's chocolate business in Bangalore a few years ago thanks to her love for chocolates.
She says, "It is very competitive and it is not easy to be in this business. Even if I need coffee extract, I have to import it from France. A bottle of coffee extract doesn't cost less than `3,000. And top quality nuts have to be imported from the Middle East.
This adds to my cost and people are reluctant to buy expensive chocolates. That way Mumbai and Delhi are pretty advanced." Nirmala is looking forward to Diwali, which is when she says the maximum sales happen.
With this, we can't disagree with what a wise man once said, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
SOME CHOCOLATE FACTS:
The per capita consumption of chocolates is still a paltry 100-150 grams in India compared to 11 kg consumed by Ireland, which is considered to be the highest The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature (98.
6 degrees) - which is why it literally melts in your mouth.
Chocolate with its high magnesium content raises progesterone levels and helps women during their pre-menstrual stage Chocolate is also known to be a mood enhancer, as it contains serotonin and phenylethylamine, which when released make us feel more upbeat and perky ’Flavanoid’, a chemical present in the cocoa bean is believed to keep your blood pressure down, thereby reducing risks of a heart attack.