In an interaction with financialexpress.com, Emmanuel Hamon speaks about his experience with Indian food, what makes Indian cuisine different, how Indian is as a market and more.

International chocolates in India: The foodies in India have long been exposed to many cuisines of the world, in their authentic as well as Indianised avatars. The food for love is one of the major things that ties diverse India across its length and breadth, always open to experimentations and modifications. Case in point – recent inventions of Gulab Jamun Paranthas, Oreo Pakodas and even Fanta Maggi. I’m not saying all of those experiments are good, though. But we do have Indianised Pasta and we had a whole range of Chinese food that even the Chinese do not know exists. Nonetheless, despite such varied food options – both good and a little off-beat, for the lack of a better description, we are constantly on the lookout for new things to try, because food brings joy and happiness.

Also read | Indian cuisine is very popular in Dubai and will continue to remain that way, says Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Now, luxury chocolate brand SMOOR is working on expanding the food options that we have by collaborating with French Chef Emmanuel Hamon, known for his pastries. In an interaction with financialexpress.com, the chocolatier said, “A distinctive aspect of India is color. You see color everywhere – from the streets to the clothes people wear. This has been an inspiration for me while developing and creating the range during this collaboration – I have infused color in the products I have designed and I hope the Indian customer enjoys them. ” Edited excerpts:

How has your experience with Indian food been so far?

The experience on this visit has been very good. In fact, this isn’t my first visit to India, I had traveled here first in 2017. Indian food, I have had it earlier too and quite enjoy it. Until my visit to India, my knowledge of Indian food was limited to basics like tandoori chicken and curry. Now, in this visit I have explored Indian cuisine more deeply. I have explored items that Indians enjoy frequently like onion pakoda and biryani. I have also enjoyed Indian desserts like carrot halwa and lentil (moong dal) halwa on this trip. I particularly enjoyed the lentil halwa as European cuisine does not use much of lentils and it was interesting to see it being used this way in the dessert.

What, according to you, sets Indian cuisine apart or makes it unique?

The main difference is the spice. Until my visit to India, I always assumed that when we say curry powder, the bottle contains the powder of a single spice used to make curry. I learnt on this trip that it’s actually a powder of many spices, seeds and herbs. Different regions and different curries have their own mix and ratio of these ingredients that give them each their distinct flavor. I plan to take quite a few with me back home.

What made you decide to expand into the Indian market via this partnership?

I have been baking and making cakes for a very long time. I also like traveling. Hence, now after 30 years in the business I have decided to combine the two. I travel to various countries to work with brands and chefs to discover the possibilities of making pastries and help them also learn new techniques and recipes. The growth potential of the Asian and Indian markets made me look at this region in a closer manner too. The opportunity of the evolving tastes in various regions is also a pull to partner with different countries.

What are your plans for the Indian market and how do you plan to blend Indian taste with French food?

My goal is not to do French taste – what I aim is to keep the texture of Europe but take inspiration from Indian flavors. Like I am working on a chocolate which has banana and sesame. The idea is to blend and make the best of both. Techniques that are European infused with Indian flavors.

How is India as a market?

The country is growing, much like China and what China was 10 years ago. In both these countries, I see people are traveling and then they aspire for international cuisines in their home country too. This makes it a great potential for brands to tap into.

Why did you decide to partner with SMOOR?

SMOOR is a young company with a great range of products and they have the ambition to grow beyond. When I spoke to Vimal, the Founder Director and CEO of SMOOR Chocolates and understood his vision. I was moved by his passion to lead and innovate in the category. He is committed to not only growing his business but also growing the chocolate market in India. His passion was a boost for me to consider working with the brand.

Could you explain some of the global food trends?

One, fresh fruit with minimal additions is becoming trendy in deserts. Simple fruit jellies that aren’t fussed around much with and to use as filling in chocolates and cakes is taking off.

The use of pralines is growing – pralines are nuts with caramelised sugar that are powdered and topped for crunch and flavor is on the rise. There is usage of different nuts – from peanuts, sesame, walnut and coffee, coriander & almond- many such unique blends that add texture and varied flavor profile are on the rise.

Another growing trend is Low sugar desserts fueled with the rising trend of healthy eating.

In Europe, styling of food, especially glazing in desserts is getting increasingly popular.

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