Adult Chocolate, Chocolate, Co Co Sala, fennel seeds, food, indian american entrepreneurs, Indian Flavors, indian palates, monica bhide, New York, restaurants, sugavasi.com, Sweet Silk, toasted almonds
- Nimesh Patel
- A chocolate box from Sweet Silk.
Imagine eating a chocolate with mango or pistachio filling, or flavored with saffron. These are some of the offerings from Indian American entrepreneurs dabbling in chocolates, sweets and confections for Indian palates.
Co Co Sala is a self-proclaimed “chocolate lounge and boutique” that opened in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Its co-owner Nisha Sidhu says there was a need for “chocolate for grown-ups” and a place to go late at night for fine-dining desserts.
“As we developed the concept, it grew to include savory dishes as well, many of which have a subtle chocolate twist to them. All of our items are made in-house, which is unusual for a full restaurant – from the breads for the sliders, to the cocktails and garnishes, even the marshmallows in the hot chocolate are made from scratch,” Ms. Sidhu said after the busy presidential inauguration period.
- Nimesh Patel
- A truffle tray from Sweet Silk.
During that time, several hotels in the U.S. capital offered Co Co Sala’s chocolate White Houses in their guest rooms. Valrhona Ivoire was the white chocolate used in the creations, accompanied by cacao and raspberry bonbons. Popular flavors for Co Co Sala’s bonbons include mango lassi and pistachio kulfi. “Om” bars and chocolate elephants are also in high demand during the Indian holidays Rakhi and Diwali, says Ms. Sidhu.
Christmas and Valentine’s Day are also busy times for Co Co Sala. For Valentine’s dinner, Co Co Sala serves a fixed price menu ($80 for five courses) featuring aphrodisiac ingredients such as cheese, asparagus, almonds, tomatoes, chilies and strawberries, as well as chocolates, of course.
Co Co Sala is also partnering with popular food writer Monica Bhide for a “Spice Sutra Bar Collection,” costing $30 a box. The contents include “kesar” with milk chocolate, saffron and cinnamon-toasted almonds; “adrak” with dark chocolate, candied ginger and fennel seeds; “elaichi” with white chocolate and green cardamom; and “gulaab” with milk chocolate gulkand rose preserves, and toasted cashews.
“Monica Bhide has been a good friend of ours since we opened Co Co Sala. When she approached us about developing a new bar collection for her, we were… excited that Monica’s ‘SpiceSutra’ would be the theme since, along with spices, chocolate is known to be an aphrodisiac,” Ms. Sidhu says, adding that many Indian spices go well with chocolate but this collection also highlights various textures.
- Co Co Sala
- Chocolate in the shape of the White House by Co Co Sala.
Shefalee Patel, the owner of Sweet Silk in Queens, New York , is another chocolatier who uses Indian flavors – and French inspiration — in her confectionary.
“I noticed that even though Indian sweets are made of very rich ingredients, such as pistachios and cashews, they were either too sweet or fell short on presentation,” says Ms. Patel, who used to be a civil engineer.
“I was inspired to create sweets that elevated the beauty of Indian sweets with balance of spice, flavors, sweetness while highlighting the main rich ingredients… I wanted to create sweets that were not only pleasing to the palate but to the eye,” she adds.
Ms. Patel, who opened Sweet Silk in 2009, says the busiest times are during Diwali and the Christmas holidays. Nut and milk based sweets are topped with fine chocolates, while her new fruit truffles are filled with dried fruit and spices before being hand rolled in chocolate and nut powder.
Ms. Patel and Ms. Sidhu have recognized that there is a market for Indian-inspired sweets and chocolates. And the options are alluring.