Forget Africa, get Cacao Beans from India!

India is the 19th producer of cacao after Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon in West Africa followed by Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, and Ecuador. All these countries including India are located 20 degrees above and below the equator where the hot rainy tropical weather is conducive for the growth of the short evergreen cacao tree called the Theobroma Cacao. It produces 1% of the cacao produced in Ivory Coast. and less than 0.33% of total world production. Cacao is mainly grown in Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra and Karnataka. India’s cacao season occurs twice: Once from September through January, and again from April through June.

The Cocoa cultivation in India was started in 1970's, when cocoa was introduced in the South by CPCRI ( Central Plantation Crops Research Institute in Kasargod, Kerala -Cacao research facility by supported by government). For every coconut tree, the government mandated farmers to plant 5 cocoa trees. During the time, Cadbury's bought the wet beans from all the farmers and it seemed like a good crop for a while. However, in 1984, the factory was shut down due to some internal problems and there was no one to buy cocoa for couple of years. This caused an economic loss to farmers and majority of them cut down all their trees to replace them with something that would give them some income. In mid-1980's Campo, a co-operative dealing with areca, pepper etc., bought the Cadbury factory and started to process cocoa however paid only 10% of what Cadbury used to buy the produce for. Having no alternative option these farmers sold all the produce to Campo until a couple of years ago.

About Chockriti's Bean to Bar Chocolates

Chockriti's Bean to Bar finished chocolate with 65% organically grown Indian cacao

Chockriti sources its cacao from two separate farms in the same area. Farmers here never cut their trees as it helped them reduce water evaporation. The first farm is a 10-acre farm where cocoa is farmed organically since last 48 years and never seen any use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The second farm is 35 acre farm, where cocoa is grown in a small 3 acre part of the farm, however more planting has started between areca crops and some uncultivated land.

Speaking to the owner of these farms, I learnt that over the years with much research and experimentation, these farmers improved their skills and are looking to start a new revolution in cocoa cultivation to meet international standards. I discovered these farms by chance after one of the senior farmers contacted me to try their chocolate. By then had already tested four other cacao brands from South India but wasnt satisfied. Some cacao tasted too bitter, some were gritty and some too acidic. This cacao however was surprisingly different- its cacao didn't taste acidic, had just the right amount of sweetness, fermentation and grinded to very smooth consistency. Additionally I liked the chocolate was made using pure Palmyra palm jaggery and no addition of Soy Lecithin or Vanilla.

This excited me as many customers in the US are allergic to Soy Lecithin and I had been looking for a refined sugar alternative in fine chocolate. However it took many months of my own testing of their chocolate with their different cacao percentages to adjust my recipes.

Chockriti currently makes Bean to Bar chocolate from this organically grown Indian cacao from a single estate and origin, with only two ingredients- pure cacao and pure Palmyra Palm Jaggery. For flavors, all natural extracts of real teas, spices, flowers and herbs are used. Current flavors are Tea of Morrocco, Turkish Coffee, Thandai, Orange Blossom, Orange Basil Pepper, Sandalwood, Lemongrass and Chameli. These are all vegan and coming soon this month. Currently, we are creating a vegan white chocolate to make our original recipes of Kaaju Kulfi and other ganache recipes that require white chocolate. For all our products, check out here:

Chockriti's Bean to Bar Tea of Morocco

Apparently the rare Venezuelan 'Criollo' cacao is in the DNA of much of Indian cacao as it was first inhabited in Indonesia in the 16th century. Then later in 1798 it was brought to the Tamil Nadu from Indonesia!

A cacao tree begins to bear fruit when it is four or five years old and produces only about 20 pods which bears the cacao seeds. Unlike most fruiting trees, the cacao pod grows directly from the trunk or large branch of a tree rather than from the end of a branch, like a Jackfruit. This makes harvesting by hand easier, as most of the pods will not be up in the higher branches. The pods on a tree do not ripen together; harvesting needs to be done periodically through the year. Harvesting occurs between three and four times weekly during the harvest season.

The three main varieties of cocoa plant are Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. The first is the most widely used, comprising 80–90% of the world production of cocoa. Cocoa beans of the Criollo variety as mentioned are rarer and considered a delicacy. However they have lower yields than those of Forastero and tend to be less resistant to several diseases. Hence very few countries still produce it. Most Indian cacao trees are of the Forastero variety.

The Indian Cacao tree in the small farm in karnataka where Chockriti gets its cacao!

For your info, here is a quick picture of the Process of Making Chocolate from the Cacao Bean

Steps in Chocolate Making from Tree!

To produce 1 kg (2.2 lb.) of cocoa paste for chocolate, about 40 pods are needed. That is about two trees! Each pod contains 20 to 60 seeds or "beans". They contain a significant amount of fat (40–50%) as cocoa butter, cacao liquor. The fruit's active constituent is the stimulant theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. Please read more about the process of Chocolate Making here:

More interesting reads and references:

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