The Pondicherry cafe has everything from Madagascar cake to chocolate pakoras.
WITH an incorrigible sweet tooth, a preview of the chocolate cafe, Zuka, which is opening today, is definitely up my alley. Born in Chennai, brought up in Pondy, 34-year-old Srinath Balachandran says he doesn’t believe in a fixed menu. He is known for the annual chocolate festival in the French Quarter and has over 160 chocolate products under his brand, after all. Using chocolates of Madagascar, Tanzania, Venezuela and Belgium origin, he says, “I am very passionate about this being an Indian company. I opened Zuka (2009) in Pondicherry as a platform for me to experiment with chocolate.” The chocolate aficionado has created the likes of payasam truffle and chocolate burger in the past, and is now finalising a green tea truffle cake.
On the dark side
Their ‘54 degree Celsius’ hot chocolate is the bestseller at their Pondy outlet, informs Balachandran, as I stir in two chocolate shells filled with chocolate shavings and a chocolate spoon — instead of sugar. Six different chocolates have been used, mostly couverture, including 44 per cent dark chocolate with hints of praline. He adds that he is launching the Dark and Dense version of the drink next week for those who like it darker. The Chennai outlet will also have merchandise like tees and mugs, by the brand. Meanwhile, if you want substantial food, try the chicken tikka ‘zandwich’ — circular shaped bread slices all the way from Pondicherry, both white and whole wheat — accompanied with a tangle of spaghetti and crunchy pepper triangles.
As I nibble on chocolate pakodas (almond rocks) that come in dark, milk and white, the freshly-brewed coffee arrives, thick with hazelnut praline. Yet I reach for slices of the Japanese Rose Crystal, sweet with ghulkhand, Jean Luc’s cocoa coffee cake (named after the pastry chef he trained under in France) and the Madagascar mousse cake. The cigars make for the perfect conclusion — crunchy wafer rolls generously dusted with 54 per cent dark cocoa. Balachandran lets on that a life-size chocolate rendition of a superstar is in the making for the launch. Incidentally, last year, Zuka’s 400 kg chocolate statue of Abdul Kalam was the talk of Pondy.
Opening today, at Radhakrishnan Salai, pastries from `120 onwards. Details: 42061404