A Premium Indulgence : Tanya Dhar

Biting into a dark, premium, melt-in-the-mouth luxury chocolate is no longer a rare indulgence. The well-heeled, well-travelled, cosmopolitan citizens of the South are out for a gourmet experience whenever they please, courtesy the exotic chocolate boutiques that dot the streets in cities such as Bengaluru, providing a top-class experience. RITZ explores how premium chocolates are driving chocolate consumption in the market.

A sinful fantasy, chocolates have transitioned from confectionaries consumed only during festive occasions to an all-season phenomenon that can be relished before a meal, after a meal, or even as an entire meal! Yes, it’s no longer about munching a bar when sitting bored. It is about soaking in the varied flavours of rich rare cocoa sourced from places such as Madagascar, Ghana, Ecuador and Venezuela; and then blended with exotic ingredients like French sea salt, cinnamon, ancho chillies, Mexican vanilla pods and organic saffron to create heavenly creations such as pralines, mousse, ganache and eclairs with world-class technology. From a chocolicious appetizer to a main and a ‘dessert’, today it is all about indulging in a holistic chocolate experience.

“Premium chocolates are witnessing tremendous demand. Today’s consumer is aware of the percentage of cocoa butter in the chocolate, about single origin chocolates, the tempering process, couverture, etc.,” says Vimal Sharma, CEO, Bliss Chocolates India, which runs Smoor.

“Premium chocolate begins with premium cocoa beans. When grading cocoa beans, we assess both subjective and objective characteristics. Of all the characteristics, flavour is the most important and the hardest to quantify. Every chocolate manufacturer has their own desired bean flavour profile required to produce the chocolate flavour they are trying to achieve,” says Sharma.

Premium chocolates are seen as a healthier option by wellness-conscious people, since they use superior health-friendly ingredients and contain antioxidants.

According to Priyanka Singhania, Founder of Zoroy Luxury Chocolate, in Bengaluru, people are well-travelled and have acquired a taste for the rich, bitter chocolate typical of Ghana. “People here are born coffee lovers and they just love our Tiramisu chocolates with cream cheese beautifully blended with coffee.”

The chocolate market in India is poised to reach $3.2 billion in revenues by 2018. But per capita consumption is still low, at 100-120 gms per year, compared to 10 kg per annum globally.

“While the overall chocolate industry is quite large and growing, the luxury chocolate segment is still fairly nascent. However, there is a growing demand for high quality chocolates at par with global brands and this segment is likely to grow manifold in the near future,” says GK Suresh, Vice-President, New Category Development, ITC’s Foods Division.

Sensing the opportunity, brands like Zoroy are looking to foray into premium gourmet retail outlets, “initially in Bengaluru, and later in the other cosmopolitan cities in the South,” says Singhania. Smoor meanwhile is planning 35 chocolate boutiques and 21 studio lounges by 2020 across several cities, including Bengaluru.

Tanya Dhar, Luxury Lifestyle Social Influencer

If life had a wonderful event round the corner, then I’d have chocolates waiting for me to celebrate. Every time I found myself in troubled waters, chocolates have comforted me as I waded towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Chocolates weaken me and empower me, but most of all they make me fall in love with them every time I enjoy a sublime chocolate experience. They always bring back sweetness in my life. Fernando Pessoa felt for chocolates just the way I do when he said, “There is no metaphysics on Earth like chocolates!”

Tanya’s wardrobe: Vidhya Arvind for Silhoue TRI

Hair & Makeup: Alison

Nails: Polished Nail Salon

Photographs: Faheem Hussain

Location: Smoor Chocolate Lounge, Bengaluru