There are few things in this world that have the all-encompassing power of chocolate. Whether you want to celebrate, recover after a long hard day, mend broken hearts or ward off Dementors –– chocolate can do it all and is always there to lend a helping hand. Most of your grocery store brands re-melt blocks of chocolate to make their signature products, and while this is all well and good for your daily cocoa fix sometimes what you need is to indulge in the luxury of true chocolatey goodness.
These homegrown companies around India are attempting to do just that with their handcrafted bars made individually with the best natural ingredients and are chock-full of the most exotic Indian spices and produce. Fair warning –– once you get a taste of these artisanal wonders it is unlikely you will be impressed by mass-produced chocolate ever again.
“Paul and Mike is a Farm to Bar chocolate brand which aims to prove that great chocolate can be made in India. We bring the philosophy of wine making to chocolate making by paying attention to every step right from the farm to the final bar.” - Vikas Temani, Founder & Business Head
Named after two Latin American cocoa farmers, Paul and Mike bring the process of fermentation to their unique chocolate bars. They have set out to prove that the finest, purest chocolate does not have to be bitter and that everyone deserves chocolate of the finest quality. They are headquartered in Kochi, and their farm-to-bar process is entirely locally sourced and sustainable. They grow and ferment cocoa on their own farms in Kochi and Coimbatore, and source wet cocoa beans from progressive farmers in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. They also conduct farm-to-bar tours at their headquarters to learn from their agronomists and chocolate-makers.
HG Recommends: 49% Fine Milk Biscoff & Gingerbread Spice Mix Chocolate; 64% Vegan Dark Gin & Ginger Chocolate
Cost: INR 250 for a 60G bar
II. La Folie
“We strive to make ‘Real Chocolate’ using all-natural ingredients and organic cacao to retain the uniqueness and purity of taste that each single origin cacao provides.”- La Folie Team
La Folie uses traditional European artisanal techniques to create their unique small-batch chocolates. With customised machinery, the texture of their high-quality chocolate bars is smooth and refined. Using all-natural ingredients and organic cacao to retain the uniqueness and purity of taste, their cacao is directly sourced from select co-operatives that use transparent and ethical trade practices. Executive Chef Sanjana Patel uses her 2 decades of experience to create a plethora of original, haute couture-style renditions of French delicacies.
HG Recommends: Maple and Chunky Almond Butter; Green Mango and Naga Chilli
Cost: INR 280-330 for a 60G Bar
III. Harsh Chocolates
This company, set up in 2001 by Anuja and Ankita Jain, specialises in making personalised handcrafted goodies. They decided to create products that were unique and delicious, and that’s exactly what they’ve become known for. Their hot chocolate sticks are big sellers, just stir into hot milk and enjoy. Another favourite is the white pot, an adorable white ramekin filled with creamy ganache and chocolate chips. They also serve biscuit chocolate, which are basically double-baked Marie biscuits dipped in indulgent dark chocolate -- simple yet brilliant.
HG Recommends: The stir-in chocolate sticks will revolutionise the way you drink hot chocolate. The come in three flavours -- dark, cinnamon and masala milk. But if it’s a straight up chocolate fix you’re looking for, go for the white pot and lose yourself in the fluffy dark mousse.
Cost: Life is like a box of chocolates and for Rs. 150 you can try them all.
“The city has mostly Oriental restaurants, which have limited desserts. Indian restaurants serve Indian desserts, which are heavy just like the meal. And, there are very few Continental restaurants. So people prefer dessert stores, fancy ice-cream parlours. People want fancier, newer desserts that they’ll get only at dessert bars” - Toshin Shetty
Chocolate master Toshin Shetty returned from his stint at Le Cordon Bleu in London with a passion to bring elite desserts to the Mumbai market. His artisanal chocolates, cakes and ice creams utilise the freshest and most varied ingredients he can get his hands on. Mixing slightly bitter coverture chocolate with fruit, nuts, praline and many other unique flavours, he creates a truly divine treat for the refined palate’s.
Protip: To get an idea of the magic that goes into these desserts, visit the store’s website and watch the video, although be warned that it will trigger a desperate need for chocolate. *heavy breathing*
HG Recommends: To enjoy the full range of Toshin’s creations get yourself the elegant box of assorted flavours and dive in. Our favourite so far is the one with the coffee centre.
Cost: INR 600 for a box of nine or INR 1000 for a box of sixteen.
These artisanal genii specialise in creating the perfect chocolatey gifts for every occasion. Their elegant designs and wrapping adds the extra touch to their already flawless product. From simple bars of chocolate to pralines and dark ganache cakes, Vivanda has it all, and to make sure you get the most out of the experience they have a guide about how to go about it -- they ask you to savour the moment, sniff the intoxicating scent, get a feel of the bar by holding a square between your fingers, and finally, leave a piece to melt on the tongue and enjoy the lingering taste of their dreamy chocolate.
HG Recommends: For all the dark chocolate addicts they have a smoky 80 per cent single origin bar that will blow your mind. The box reads “bitter is better” and they could not be more right. For the sweeter tooth, the sea salt bar will fulfil all your desires.
Cost: INR 160 for 40G.
VI. All Things
“Inspiration comes from everyday life—from making interesting connections and showing things we’ve all seen before in a fresh or unusual way.”
Duo Kuhu Kochar and Tejasvi Chandela have been friends since their school days and today are putting their talents into a unique brand of artisanal chocolate. Tejasvi specialises in creating original recipes and Kuhu’s design skills ensure that they go out looking fabulous. Each bean-to-bar comes with an individual theme, ranging from cities (Barcelona) to life phases (childhood) to whimsical themes (Monday Blues), and each one is flavoured accordingly with locally sourced ingredients. The All Things Barcelona Bar, for instance, is an indulgent number with 55% blended Indian dark chocolate with sangria, and the All Things Summer bar comes with 72% Malabar Dark Chocolate with Alphonso Mango. Their chocolate is outstanding but what really sets this company apart is their attention to detail in their packaging.
HG Recommends: The All Things Monsoon bar comes with 33.3% Milk Chocolate with flavours of Chai and Biscuit, and is the perfect rainy day treat.
Cost: INR 180 onwards for a 60G bar.
“We used to dream of artisan food that was healthy, and healthy food that had finesse. We knew it was possible and we began with our answer to the problem in 2010 making traditional sourdough artisan bread and healthy raw confectionery in London. We often felt, however that there was too great a distance between producer and farmer and longed to learn the stories of the people who had reared our ingredients.”
This gourmet chocolaterie is on a mission to create India’s most elite product, a chocolate for a sophisticated palate that demonstrates the versatility of Indian produce. They have dedicated themselves to making chocolate that reflects the cycles of nature and unifying the ancient and modern world. They specialise in raw chocolate that highlights its rugged beauty that is rarely seen amidst the sweeteners and artificial flavourings of supermarket brands. Their 72 per cent dark chocolate is sourced from Karnataka and Kerala, and feature additions like organic almonds, sea salt smoked over cacao bean husks, and palm sugar. They aim to be organic and ethical in all their endeavours and combined with the healthy natural nature of raw chocolate means that a bar from Earth Loaf is really a guilt-free experience.
HG Recommends: The crunchy and delicious cacao nib and palm sugar bar. It’s full of Himalayan fruit and nuts like gondhoraj and apricot. The raw grainy texture will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Cost: INR 390 for a 60G bar.
VIII. Mason & Co
“We make the best artisan & gourmet chocolate available in India. It is made with organic cacao beans grown by Indian farmers, it’s vegan and it’s superior quality. We take great pride in producing a conscious product that makes people happy”
French couple Fabien and Jane Mason moved to the southern haven of Auroville, Pondicherry, and set up their remarkable venture in the world of chocolate. Jane, a raw food chef and vegan, was disappointed by the lack of options she had to choose from and decided to make her own with imported raw cocoa powder and cocoa butter. As it grew in popularity she began to explore options for sourcing raw materials closer to home and discovered the treasure trove of Indian cocoa beans that weren’t being given their chance to shine. According to the Masons, the Indian crop has more acidic and fruity notes that they try to highlight in their product. They also want to give back to the community and are working with the cocoa farmers to adapt to the growing conditions and taste of the bean so they can set up a cooperative in the future. Their fair trade, ethical business model is bringing the best of Indian chocolate to the forefront of the market.
HG Recommends: The Peppermint and Sweet Nibs bar is by far a favourite. Textured and flavourful, the tastes complement each other perfectly.
Price: INR 335 for a 70G bar
While Delhi is hardly at a loss for confectioners, Mandakini Gupta is one that is quickly becoming chocolate sensation. Working from a tiny kitchen with minimal equipment, she creates tiny bars hand-studded with everything from fruit and nut to candied chilli. There is no retail outlet and each of her products is made to order. The luxurious 65 per cent dark cocoa she uses is hand tempered, a daunting process but one that gives the chocolate an unbeatable shine and snap. She makes about 50 bars a week which she then wraps by hand in one of the 12 colourful prints she chose for her company. These labours of love have a personal touch rarely seen in any commercial product and are well worth sampling.
HG Recommends: The Artisanal Belgian chocolate bars and Red Rice Crackle are two favourites which really display the love and skill Mandakini puts into her work.
Cost: INR 875 for a box of four.
Founded by Pragati Sawhney in 2011, Chockriti’s name comes from an amalgamation of the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘kriti’, the sanskrit word for creation. Sawhney, a dentist with a Masters in Public Health, started the company after learning that a majority of ‘homemade chocolate’ in India was made of artificial flavourings and vegetable oil instead of cocoa. The company focuses on making gourmet craft chocolates using fine chocolate and real cocoa in order to ‘Save Good People from Bad Chocolate!’ You can sample from their wide variety of unique products such as the Paan Banaras Bar or African Roobios Tea Bar, or customise your order at their website.
HG Recommends: The Basil Orange Pepper Bar is one of the company’s most popular and eclectic items.
Cost: INR 290-350 for a 50G bar
Hill Wild, the brainchild of Leiyolan Vashum and Zeinorin Stephen living in the Ukhrul district of Manipur, is an artisanal chocolate brand from the Northeast that works with the region’s local communities providing them with employment opportunities and promoting local produce. From pumpkin seeds to plum wine, they infuse authentic northeastern ingredients with cocoa sourced directly from Pune. However, their idea of using ghost chilli as one of the ingredients is by far their most interesting one. “The unique selling point of our chocolates is that we are using our locally-grown products like ghost chilli, making it more palatable. We want our products to have the feel of unexplored Northeast so that people outside can taste the uniqueness of our region”, said Zeinorin Stephen in a report by The Telegraph.
HG Recommends: A bar of their famous King Chilli chocolate.
Cost: INR 160 for a 110G bar.
XII. Toska Chocolates
“Being a huge lover of fine chocolates, it was only during my chocolate academy days, that I realized the shortage of pure and fine-quality chocolates in India and thus started exploring the cacao industry. During the exploration I came up with my way of “bean-to-bar” (Cacao Bean to Chocolate Bar) process and hence began the journey of Toska.” - Ishan Pansuria, Founder
Bean-to-bar is the process of making chocolate, from raw cacao bean to a finished chocolate bar. The process is covered over 8 long steps, including sorting, roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding and refining, conching, tempering, and finally pouring and cooling. Toska offers a wide variety of chocolate bars, from dark to white chocolate, and even has vegan bars.
HG Recommends: Wild Rose & Hawaiian Hibiscus - Vegan White Chocolate; Chai Masala - Single Origin Malabar Forest Dark Chocolate.
Cost: INR 300-350 for a 70G bar.
Starting out in 2015, brothers-in-law Karthikeyan Palaniswamy and Harish Manoj Kumar decided to make use of their family’s yield of intercropped cocoa to put Indian chocolate on the map. Since then, they have become one of the premier brands for homegrown chocolate, even winning at the International Chocolate Awards in 2017, just two years after their first bars had been created. This family-run business makes use of everything local- from locally sourced machinery to desi ghee in their dark chocolate. Even the name, Soklet, is a play on the pronunciation of ‘chocolate’ in Tamil.
HG Recommends: Filter Kaapi; 70% Dark Chocolate.
Cost: INR 295 for a 60G bar.
Founder Chef Devansh Ashar created Pascati out of a deep passion for all things chocolate. Formerly at Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad in 2013, his curiosity for chocolate was piqued when he saw the difference between compound chocolate used for baking and an ordinary chocolate bar. One online chocolate-making class and a modified idli grinder later, Pascati was born. ‘Pascati’, is derived from the Sanskrit word Pascat Parivesya which translates to a sweet meal, and the brand is also India’s first USDA Organic and Fairtrade compliant chocolate brand. Both organic and vegan, this bean-to-bar maker is taking over the market.
HG Recommends: Organic and Vegan Chocolate Sea Salt; Mango.
Cost: INR 280 for a 75G bar.
Five generations ago, the Cassam Chenaï family from Gujarat in India, settled in Madagascar. There, they began to sell postcards, textiles and finally spices for export, and each family member broke away to create their own business. Shahin Cassam Chenai is one of them. Their tagline is, “In every Menakao chocolate, there are women and men!” Their packaging is a tribute to the Malagasy tribes, presenting cultures which make up Madagascar’s ethnic wealth since the chocolates are made with Malagasy cacao. Each of their chocolates is infused with local Malagasy ingredients, giving them a super unique, out-of-the-box flavour.
HG Recommends: Madagascan Vanilla; Bird Chilli.
Cost: INR 480 for a 75G bar.
“We are using cocoa as the canvas and the flavour infusions as the colours. Indian flavours have so much potential when it comes to a food matrix like chocolates. My attempt at using local flavours is to make chocolates more relatable and explore those combinations”- Arun Viswanathan, Founder
Founder Arun Viswanathan is putting Chitra’m Craft Chocolates on the map by infusing Indian flavours with high-quality cacao. He launched the brand in 2018, and it quickly made a name for itself on the world stage at the International Chocolate Awards in Italy, winning a bronze for the mango lassi variant. The cacao is sourced from three farmers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and the natural flavours are infused during the grinding process. Being a small-batch company, Viswanathan does not use any artificial stabilisers or preservatives in the manufacturing process.
HG Recommends: 70% Dark Chocolate Palm Sugar; Mango Lassi Milk Chocolate
XVII. Bombay Sweet Shop
The minds behind iconic Bombay restaurants The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro launched Bombay Sweet Shop in 2019 with an aim to recreate the way we approach Indian mithais. They have recently launched their Indie Bars, a sweet Indian take on the traditional chocolate bar from the Cadbury days of our childhoods. Layered with pepper caramel, coconut fluff, patissa and dark chocolate, the Indie Bar is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. A sinfully decadent combination of mithai and chocolate, we recommend breaking one open immediately.
HG Recommends: The Indie Bar; Chai Biscuit Choco Barks.
Cost: INR 150 for a single pack (contains two bars).
XVIII. Ether Atelier
Chef Prateek Bakhtiani’s Ether Atelier is a first of its kind patisserie and chocolatier. At his atelier, chefs are encouraged to experience the origins, terroir and compositions of chocolate and study them in the service of an inspiration. The efforts of this work is seen in their biannual collections of 5 inspiration driven creations. 100% of the chocolate used at Ether is single origin, ranging from Peru to Indonesia to Madagascar. Their current monsoon collection consists of Old School Fudge Sticks, a set of 5 Japanese inspired macarons, and a Hot Chocolate Basque Cheesecake.
HG Recommends: Old School Fudge Sticks; Peach Melba Cobbler
Cost: INR 1500 for a box of 10 fudge sticks.
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