The Path to Chocolate: India

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Properly fermenting and drying cocoa the right way costs money and time. And I believe that in today’s India, a farmer would only start doing it if he [sic] saw money on the table.

-Karthikeyan Palaniswami, Soklet Chocolate Co-Founder

Indian cuisine is well-known, but Indian sweets, particularly Indian chocolates, have yet to catch on. They are, nonetheless, present. In truth, India has been growing cacao for centuries and today has a half-dozen established chocolate companies, with another few dozen in the pipeline. Yet you probably couldn’t identify any, so what’s the deal?

One major reason is that local demand for cocoa is increasing, and the nation continues to rely on cacao imports to supply the need. Nevertheless, in this episode, we speak with four individuals engaged in every step of Indian chocolate production, from tree to bar. We discuss why they are flying under the radar, their future forecasts, and which crops might mark the end of Indian cocoa.

Click here to read an article about this episode.

We cover the following topics:

  • the history of cacao growing and processing in India
  • where and how much cocoa is being grown around India
  • India’ cocoa deficit
  • crops competing against cocoa for cultivation in India
  • typical Indian flavor combinations and their roles in creating a uniquely Indian product for both domestic & international markets
  • the most popular chocolate brands and types consumed in India
  • future market segments primed for growth within Indian chocolate

Display Timeline

0:00-3:25 Contextual introduction to India and its chocolate production history

3:25-10:00 Basic information on the history of cacao production in India, as well as how the crop has spread or not in southern India. (Chocolate Soklet)

10:00-16:10 How and why GoGround runs its cacao brands fermentary outside of India’s commodity cocoa market, and what actions they’ve made to get there.

16:10-19:10 A short history of the Indian bean-to-bar chocolate movement. (Pallaniswami, Karthikeyan)

19:10-27:30 Investigating India’s present chocolate eating culture and the reasons behind it, as well as some classic Indian taste combinations. (Viswanathan, Arun)

27:30-34:32The co-founders of Soklet Chocolate share their last ideas on value-added chocolate products in India, and the program concludes.

More About Our Visitors

Karthikeyan Palaniswami and Harish Manoj Kumar: co-founders of Regal Chocolates and Soklet Chocolate, as well as Regal Farms’ cacao brand. Soklets may be found on Instagram, Facebook, and their website.

Aliyas (GoGround): Farm Manager for GoGround Beans & Spices, an Indian cacao brand situated in Kerala. Visit GoGrounds on Instagram and Facebook.

ArunViswanathan is the inventor of ChocoGanache and Chitram Handmade Chocolate, as well as the proprietor of Infusions Chocolate Café in Coimbatore, India. Visit his Facebook, Instagram, and website.

Further Reading

  • Production statistics from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture
  • Callebaut’s new chocolate factory and lab in India
  • A basic history of cacao in India
  • Coverage of the beginning of Arun’s business

Contact Chocolate On The Road

@chocolateontheroad on Instagram

@chocolateontheroad on Facebook

Our show music is Phil Reavis’ Roadtrip, and our transition music is People Like Us’ Were Gonna Be Around.

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