It’s finally, and officially, springtime. High time to fling off all your lingering winter woes and start gorging on all the gorgeous new foods nature’s tossing into our baskets. In penning an edible edit of all the hottest, coolest, latest, greatest Indian food news, I couldn’t neglect to notice that Easter is just around the corner. So when you feast yer eyes on this little lot, forgive me for the fact it’s rather chocablock with chocolate. In my defense, I have aimed to keep things somewhat balanced – you’ll even find fruit….
Hot, Hot Chocolate
The Spice Scribe has been a bit ‘cocoa loco’ of late, embarking on a whole new series of ‘Culinary Adventures’ – those of ‘The Cocoa Nut’. My brand-new chocolate blog has meant thoughts of chocolate, spice and all things nice have been consuming me; and I’ve done a fair bit of consuming all those nice things myself in kind.
The reciprocal relationship may do little for my waistline, but it has led to plentiful and palatable discoveries that cleverly combine my love for Indian cuisine and chocolate – like the ‘Vishneaster Egg’ created by restaurateur Asad Khan of India Dining in Surrey. The ‘interreligious’ dark chocolate treat mixes in mango, sea salt and Indian spices. Crack the egg’s shell and auspicious items and scrolls featuring both Biblical verse and Vedic scriptures spill out.
Next, I need to spill the cracking gossip that The Chocolatier Aneesh Popat is now top-shelf material! But there’s no need to avert your eyes. There’s nothing at all risqué about his lofty appearance. We’re not talking the ‘smutty shelf’ at the local newsagent; rather, a pretty prime position in the new Chocolate Library in swish Selfridges. Also catalogued is Cocoa Hernando, whose wonderful wanderlust-inspired flavours comprise Chai and Himalayan salt.
Any Cocoa Nut worth their salt will know of India’s constant craving for Cadbury Dairy Milk. In terms of chocolate, it’s as sweet, sticky’n’sickly a substance as they come. That description might not sound like much of a boast, but in fact, it means CDM boasts the self-same qualities of all those mithai the nation goes so mad for.
Dairy Milk might be an Indian institution, but not so many folks are willing to take a trip to the dark side. Bittersweet chocolate often seems to leave sweet-toothed snackers feeling quite bitter at the wasted stomach space. For the past 5 years, Cadbury’s Bournville brand has been a rather dark horse; covertly creating cravings across India for something a little stronger – demand growing 160% from 2009 – 2011.
And now parent company Mondelez means business; investing $190m to build a big old behemoth of a factory in Andhra Pradesh that will churn out 250,000 tonnes of treats annually – a new improved Bournville amongst them. Now India’s increasingly accustomed to savouring the rich, deep flavour, it’s time to tempt new customers.
Bournville was never an ugly duckling, but the aim is to make it into an elegant swan – something sublime to suit the subcontinental palate. After large-scale consumer tasting and testing on taste, texture (which must have been utterly torturous for the poor subjects), the sensory science is sound and the magic number has been found. New 50% cocoa content Bournville bars will be bejewelled by various dryfruits and nuts and be shinily attired; their new wrappers the ‘little black dresses’ of the packaging world.
Amelia Rope’s chocolate, on the other hand, is the master of elegant understatement. Each bar comes neatly wrapped in plain brown paper; the shiny coloured foil peeping out around the borders hinting at the flavour found within. And soon, those within the subcontinent will get to savour the flavours Amelia has so carefully picked to perfectly please the national palate. Hint: India is in for a true treat.
And, with cocoa production on the increase in India across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, this chocolate wunderkind could soon have a whole new range of raw materials with which to work…
Tasty Tidbits & Fruity Gossip
Back in Britain, the good folks of Leeds are going nuts for the hottest, coolest ice cream innovation of all time. It’s not just hyperbole – this frozen treat meets both those descriptions in the most literal of senses. Two of the UK’s incredible Indian-inspired street food vendors have teamed up to create a very, very spiced ice indeed.
‘The World’s Hottest Ice Cream’ is the product of a cool collaboration between artisan kulfi-wallah Indie Ices and all-round wrap-star rola wala. To a base of Mike Tattersall’s award-winning mango kulfi, the duo have added a pinch that packs a real punch – a little lethal lacing of Mark Wright’s killer Moruga chilli powder. Check out A Tale of Two Sittings‘ taste test here.
A big fat Indian wedding was also spiced up with Mike’s wares when he drove in on Asha – his tricked-out tuk-tuk. For someone not expecting to be upstaged by another woman, bride Laura certainly kept her cool – especially when she discovered Asha came completely crammed with kulfi. Congratulations go to Spice Kitchen’s Sanjay both for his new nuptials and for being discreet about the treat!
For Brits craving Indian mangoes through summer, a super scoop of Mike’s marvellous kulfi might well be both the best and the only option. As we tuck into our first luscious Alphonsos of the season, news comes that EU authorities are sufficiently distressed by the prospect of a nasty little pest to ban all Indian mango imports from May until 2015, even if it means depriving mango-lovers of their annual fruity affair. If you want to voice your opposition to the ban, you can sign Monica Bhandari’s petition here.
Most who’ve fallen for that fruit would argue there’s just no substitute for the majesty of a real mango, but product technologists Sensient Flavours still reckons that it has correctly captured the essence of Badam, Alphonso and Kesar varieties in its natural flavourings. Whilst we’re short of the fine fruits, these could perhaps provide us bereft Brits with a small sliver of subcontinental sunshine – as could all these alternative varieties from around the world.
For her new range of Chutnis for The Spice Tailor, Anjum Anand has opted to miss out mango in favour of some lesser-spotted ingredients. In the crowded condiment market, it’s refreshing to see such a fulsomely-flavoured range inspired by authentic recipes. And it’s especially great to see her take on wonderfully sticky-sweet papaya-based ‘plastic chutney’ make the line-up. I might write the site’s bi-monthly blog, but that doesn’t mean I’m biased – just all-the-more aware of Anjum’s commitment to quality.
Quality, not quantity, chaps; that’s what we’re always told is key. So on that note, I will leave you to digest my little Spring digest and get ready to relish the restaurants, pop-ups and edible events in next week’s post…
Any more news I need to know about?
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