Last Updated on February 17, 2021 by Novotaste

The limited-edition chocolates come in nine flavours

“We planned to launch this on the occasion of Tamil New Year last year, but it got rescheduled to the first week of February 2021, owing to the pandemic.

By VAISHALI VIJAYKUMAR

CHENNAI: It’s not without any reason that we say Chennai is a city, but Madras is an emotion. Ask founders of Kocoatrait, Poonam and L Nitin Chordia, who have taken this emotion a notch higher with their latest limited edition of nine exquisite dark chocolate bars, all inspired by the flavours of the city and the state.

Having sniffed the local flavours like panakam, sakkarai pongal, paneer roja and some others through their growing up years, it was time, they decided, to offer a fitting tribute to Tamil Nadu — where their heart finds a sweet home. “We planned to launch this on the occasion of Tamil New Year last year, but it got rescheduled to the first week of February 2021, owing to the pandemic.

This one year also worked for us as people became more aware of dark chocolates and its health significance. We’re glad it’s happening now,” says Nitin, co-founder and chocolatier. As a major chunk of the mindfully-curated collection of 75 boxes gets ready to be shipped, I get a sneak peek into the last batch of chocolate bars under preparation, at their facility in Gopalapuram.

I find the perfect spot beside a grinder with heavy rollers ploughing back and forth through the velvety chocolate paste. It’s hard to chew on any other thought, mind you, when you are on the dark side of this (chocolate) heaven. Just as I ready myself to be surrendered to these scents and sights, the couple offers me a fresh set of flavours — sukku malli kaapi, kozhukattai, malligai and mor milagai — to sample. What I taste is an alchemy of the choicest order.

A dynamic combination
It’s not easy to comprehend the magical compatibility of traditional flavours with a dark chocolate base. Poonam hands me over a spoon of malligai flavour in its semi-liquid consistency, fresh off the grinder. “The flowers are sourced from specific vendors. If you’re tasting jasmine, then it’s only the fragrance of the flower as we have not infused any oil or petals in the making as it has a sharp, bitter taste. Instead, we put the cocoa beans and jasmine buds in a container and let the flower blossom overnight. Once the flower blooms, the aroma gets captured,” she explains.

My favourite pick from the lot was mor milagai. For someone who has always enjoyed it in its crunchy form with curd rice during the summer, picturing it in a cold, condensed avatar of dark chocolate seemed inconceivable. But the traces of fermented buttermilk and tanginess in every bite betrayed my apprehension. Likewise, the strong flavour of roasted coffee beans in the filter coffee bar is no sublime offering for the faint-hearted. “It wasn’t easy to replicate the flavours. For instance, seven herbs went into making sukku malli kaapi. But the taste of dry ginger is dominant compared to the rest. You need to relish one cube at a time and let it melt in your mouth, slowly.

It demands your attention to pick the right flavours. Cleanse your palate with water if you want to try another flavour or you may not be able to identify and appreciate the flavours to the fullest,” offers Nitin. Four out of nine bars constitute A2 milk (extracted from indigenous cows), the rest are vegan and gluten-free, says Nitin. “Each bar has a certain percentage of cocoa content.Higher the cocoa presence, higher the bitterness. We had to pair the flavour and cocoa accordingly so that one complements the other.

Panchamritham, Tirunelveli halwa, coconut barfi…were all part of our ambitious list of choices but we didn’t want the taste to overlap. For instance, kozhukattai has coconut filling in it and we use coconut milk and jaggery to replicate the taste. If we have coconut barfi as well on the list, then the two would taste similar because of the ingredients. This helped us narrow down. And, for sweetness, we have used only khandsari sugar, the non-refined version of sugar,” he explains. I agree, feeling overwrought by the heady flavours.

Sustainable in a sweet way
Having always made inclusivity and sustainability a part of their brand, Kocoatrait also partnered with nine city-based sustainability initiatives and they find a place on the wrapper. “The bars come in baskets woven by Chettinad artisans employed by M Rm Rm Cultural Foundation. On the inside of the wrapper, you will find a few musical instruments and Bharatanatyam dance postures sketched by two artists with disabilities — Rupak Manj e and Akas h Parekh. The printing is done by V Excel Foundation that employs persons with disabilities.

We wanted to incorporate so much detailing into it so that every piece of the bar would have a local touch to it,” details Poonam. To ensure the collection is eco-friendly, everything from the chocolate wrappers and the foil to the packaging box is plastic- free. “Even the ink used for printing on the cover is water-based and does not have plastic. The baskets are multi-purpose and boxes are recyclable and biodegradable. Nothing that goes out of the store will harm the environment,” assures Nitin. The chocolates are currently available for sale only on their website.

“We may go into reprinting depending on the demand. Each batch of the chocolate bar takes weeks to make it to the shelves. They go through multiple stages such as cleaning the cocoa bean, roasting them, removing shells and nibs, kneading them into paste and tempering. I want to give this box to the Prime Minister of India. This is a small way to take the pride of Tamil Nadu to a larger audience. Expect a coffee collection soon,” notes Nitin. Sweeter words couldn’t have been said to a coffee and chocolate lover. Some joys like chocolate are more than an indulgence. They are a way of life.

The box of nine bars is priced at Rs 3,250 inclusive of delivery and taxes. Shipping available across India For details, visit https:// cocoatrait.com/product/ kocoatrait-madras-collection/

Source: A decadent tribute with Tamil flavours- The New Indian Express