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    Poonam Chordia introduces, Enchanté, her brand of handmade chocolate bars and delicate confectionery.

    Nine years ago, a retail business consultant fell in love with chocolate—the fine, dark, artisanal variety. It marked the beginning of his hunt for the world’s best handcrafted bars and culminated in L Nitin Chordia becoming India’s first certified chocolate taster. Today, his brand, Cocoatrait, sources and distributes some of the best bean-to-bar chocolates around.
    Then, over a year ago, this love affair with all things dark inspired his wife, Poonam, to turn her kitchen into a chocolate laboratory, experimenting with flavours and textures. “I’ve always been a fan of milk chocolate, but Nitin would only bring me dark. Then one week, he asked me to eat only that,” reminisces the 36-year-old, laughingly recalling how, on the eighth day, she could no longer eat the sweeter version. “I began understanding percentages and notes (like citrus, coffee, fruity, etc). I started out by helping Nitin run the Chocolate Tasting Club, but soon felt I had to make my own,” she adds.

    Of all things dark
    So when Nitin travelled to the Netherlands earlier this year, to present Indian chocolates at the Amsterdam Chocoa Trade Show, Poonam accompanied him and learnt chocolate making. “I felt, rather than a school, individual chocolatiers would help me learn different techniques and flavours, as each would have their own speciality,” says the homemaker, who then learnt her bean-to-bar at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Antwerp, Belgium. Once back, her reputation as a good cook was put to the test. Days spent mixing, tasting and correcting have now resulted in her own range of Enchanté bars, bon bons and truffles, and some unique flavour profiles.
    As I delicately slice a bon bon to see its hibiscus and black pepper centre, Poonam urges me to bite into it and let the flavours burst on my tongue. She then proudly serves me the masala chai truffle that had won her fans earlier in the day, at a TEDx conference. “People told me they’d never thought chai would taste so good with chocolate. I make it with my mother-in-law’s masala and had to do at least 25 different combinations before I got it just right,” smiles the mother of two, who recently created a range of artisanal chocolates for Hamsa, the fine-dining restaurant in Adyar. Her unusual flavours include passion fruit with chilli, rosemary with lemon and honey and even a thandai. While her bon bons and truffles are made-to-order, she retails her nine varieties of couverture bars at outlets like Gormei Market. “Next, I want to start making my own bean-to-bar chocolates. Maybe once the festive season ends and I have more time,” concludes Poonam, who will be going to London soon to do her first level of the chocolate tasting course.

    Back to school
    For novices to the dark side, Cocoatrait will soon be conducting chocolate-making classes. “We will teach truffles, bonbons and bean-to-bar making,” says Poonam, adding that each session will be preceded by a tasting with some chocolate history. “We will sign up groups of five, so each person will get individual attention.” Set to start in January. Classes from Rs 3,500
    onwards. Details: 9600064846

    — Surya Praphulla Kumar

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