Sweet! How French Pastry Chef Emmanuel Hamon Brings a European Flair to Indian Chocolates

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

International chocolates in India: India’s foodies have long been exposed to many cuisines of the world, in their authentic and Indianized avatars. The love of food is one of the major things that unites diverse India across its length and breadth, always open to experimentation and modification. For example, the recent inventions of Gulab Jamun Paranthas, Oreo Pakodas and even Fanta Maggi. I’m not saying all of these experiences are good, though. But we have Indianized pasta and we have a whole range of Chinese dishes that even the Chinese don’t know about. Nevertheless, despite such a wide variety of food offerings – both good and a bit quirky, for lack of a better description – we are constantly on the lookout for new things to try, because food brings joy and happiness.

Read also | Indian cuisine is very popular in Dubai and will continue to be so, says celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Now, luxury chocolate brand SMOOR is working to expand the food options 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 the color. You see color everywhere – from the streets to the clothes people wear. This has been an inspiration to me as I developed and created the range during this collaboration – I infused color into the products I designed and hope the Indian customer will appreciate. Edited excerpts:

What has been your experience with Indian cuisine so far?

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

In your opinion, what distinguishes or makes Indian cuisine unique?

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

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

I have been cooking and baking for a very long time. I also like to travel. That’s why, after 30 years in the business, I decided to combine the two. I travel to different countries to work with brands and chefs to discover the possibilities of baking and also help them learn new techniques and recipes. The growth potential of the Asian and Indian markets also led me to take a closer look at this region. The opportunity of changing tastes in various regions is also an incentive to partner with different countries.

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

My goal is not to make French taste – my goal is to keep the texture of Europe but to be inspired by Indian flavors. As if I was working on a chocolate that contains banana and sesame. The idea is to mix and get the best of both. European techniques infused with Indian flavors.

How is India as a market?

The country is developing, much like China and what China was like 10 years ago. In these two countries, I see people traveling and also yearning for international cuisines in their home countries. This makes it a great potential for brands to exploit.

Why did you decide to partner with SMOOR?

SMOOR is a young company with a wide range of products and they have the ambition to grow beyond that. When I spoke to Vimal, the founding director and CEO of SMOOR Chocolates, I understood his vision. I was moved by his passion to lead and innovate in the category. He is committed to not only expanding his business but also developing the chocolate market in India. His passion pushed me to consider working with the brand.

Could you explain some of the global food trends?

First, fresh fruit with minimal additions is becoming fashionable in deserts. Simple fruit pastes that are not very complicated and to be used as a filling in chocolates and cakes take off.

The use of pralines is growing – pralines are nuts with caramelized sugar that are powdered and topped for crunch and flavor is on the rise. There’s the use of different nuts – from peanuts, sesame, walnuts and coffee, to cilantro and almonds – many unique blends that add texture and a varied flavor profile are on the rise.

Another growing trend is low-sugar desserts fueled by the growing healthy eating trend.

In Europe, food styling, especially frosting in desserts, is becoming increasingly popular.

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