States Of Taste: Barcode’s Artisanal Chocolates Are A Delicious Geography Lesson
Barcode provides a geography lesson in a box of chocolates. The brand’s neon green box, which slides open to reveal individual chocolate slabs, is a primer on six Indian states through ingredients indigenous to them. These vary from spices to fruits that are bound together by Couverture chocolate sourced from Ghana, Ecuador, Java and Sao Tome.
Chocolatier Varun Inamdar, who launched the first in a series of six Barcode assorted chocolate boxes in May, plans to cover all of the country’s 29 states in the coming months. The idea for Barcode occurred to Inamdar while attending a chocolate convention in Vietnam where he realised that “the world regards us as a chocolate eating nation as opposed to a chocolate producing one”. He then decided to give each state a chocolate identity through Barcode.
Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Punjab, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu are represented in the first box, which showcases both the popular and underrated produce of each state. For Andhra Pradesh, for instance, Inamdar has paired Teja chillies native to Guntur with mangoes from Banganapalli instead of the universally loved Alphonso variety. In this box you won’t get to taste Gujarat’s famous kesar mangoes, but can instead nibble on an unexpected combination of sapota (chikoo) and fenugreek. Inamdar, who is a Mumbai lad, said he did not want to do the obvious or expected thing by including Maharashtra in the launch box.
He procures the ingredients from farms, local spice merchants and regional dehydrator plants and makes the chocolate in Mumbai. The chocolatier has attempted to change the perception that we’re a milk chocolate preferring people by using 70 per cent and 72 per cent chocolate across three out of the six flavours. We tried each of them. Here are our reviews:
Amla, lemon and coriander salt, Jharkhand
This is our favourite flavour for its savoury notes of salt. We encountered a chewy piece of amla in every tiny square. The tangy elements overruled the sweetness of the milk chocolate from Ghana. While it starts off as sweet, it has a lemony finish.
Banganapalli mango and Teja chilli, Andhra Pradesh
Aam papad-like pieces of mango are lodged in this delicious Ecuadorian dark chocolate. The notoriously fiery Guntur chillies deliver a searing wallop, so it’s best to keep this out of the reach of chocolate-doting tots.
Kinnow and ajwain, Punjab
Kinnow, the vibrant and pucker-inducing mandarin native to Punjab, is intuitively paired with pungent ajwain to deliver a treat that surprises the palate until the last square. The chewy fruit and the healthful herb are embedded in 70 per cent Ecuador chocolate.
Sapota and fenugreek, Gujarat
Methi chocolate doesn’t sound very appetising, but Inamdar proved us wrong. Chikoo mixed into milk chocolate, from Indonesia, makes this slab the sweetest of the six. The aroma and bitter flavour of the methi while discernible was not as overbearing as we assumed it would be. It’s decidedly unconventional, which adds to its appeal.
Figs and cloves, Tamil Nadu
Pair the chocolate with tea for warmth on a cool winter day. The clove is quite strong on the nose, which can be overwhelming for someone not fond of the spice.
Black cardamom and Dalle chilli, Sikkim
The umami is strong in this smokey and spicy Sikkim-inspired slab. The sharpness of the chilli is a highlight, but the cardamom dominates the palate. The two equally strong components result in something of a flavour clash.
Barcode Volume 1 is priced at Rs499 per box. To place an order, email [email protected].