Sign up for a cacao-inspired dinner to rekindle your love for the fruit

Sep 05, 2017, 16:01 IST | Shraddha Uchil

Fabien Mason (centre) with Jane (left). Pics/Mason & Co, Danda Food Project
Fabien Mason (centre) with Jane (left). Pics/Mason & Co, Danda Food Project

Did you know that for most its 4,000-year history, chocolate was consumed as a bitter beverage rather than as dessert? To see the various other ways in which cacao can be consumed, sign up for a pop-up dinner organised by Danda Food Project, in collaboration with organic chocolate brand Mason & Co.

Aditya Raghavan, cheese consultant and co-founder of Danda Food Project says, "The idea for this came about when Anandita [Kamani, co-founder] and I were discussing how astounding it is that we get beautiful dark chocolate from this plain-looking pod. We started doing some research, and that led us to Jane and Fabien Mason's Auroville set-up."

The result is a 10-course meal that takes you on a journey of tasting everything from the cacao fruit to the decadent chocolate that comes out of it. Most of the menu is shrouded in secrecy, and will only be revealed to diners on the day. "We want people to be excited by it when they see it," explains Raghavan, adding that there will be options for vegetarians and vegans, too. Without revealing too much, he gives us a sneak peek into what we can expect.

"The first course is a sorbet made with the pulp of the cacao fruit. We sourced close to 30kg of it from a farm in Kerala," says Raghavan, adding, "Very few people have actually tried the fruit. It tastes like a cross between a lychee and mangosteen." Another dish will make use of cocoa nibs, while a third will feature rich cacao butter. "For the sixth course, we have used 10-day aged molé [a savoury, chocolate-based sauce from Mexico] to create a dish," he shares.

Six of the 10 courses are savoury items, after which the desserts will start coming in. There will be nine drink pairings through the meal. Six of these will feature wine, while Abhishek Chinchalkar of Bombay Duck Brewing (and third co-founder of Danda Food Project) will be serving a Chocolate Stout.

"The tenth course is a digestif, featuring two items, Coffee as Chocolate, and Chocolate as Coffee. For this, we've played around with coffee beans and cold-brewed coffee to give you what looks like chocolate but tastes like coffee," says Raghavan.

Those who miss this pop-up need not worry, as Raghavan and Kamani will host a repeat meal at their Khar home on September 12.

On: September 7 and 9, 8 pm onwards
At: Magazine Street Kitchen, Devidayal Compound, Gupta Mills Estate, Byculla East.
Log on to:
Cost: Rs 5,000 to Rs 5,500

Cacao vs cocoa
Cacao refers to the raw and purest form of chocolate you can consume. Cocoa, meanwhile, is the product formed when you apply high heat to cacao.

A cacao pod, which holds the seeds, starts ripening five months after it flowers

The beans are fermented to remove tannins, as well as develop flavour and colour

The beans are dried to bring their moisture content down. This can take up to a week

The dried beans are roasted to enhance the flavour and colour of the chocolate

Grinding the nibs results in a paste called cocoa mass. Cocoa butter is extracted from this

The mass goes into a machine to be refined. Sugar, milk powder, etc, are added

Tempering the chocolate helps give it that characteristic 'snap' and glossy finish

The chocolate is poured into moulds and agitated in order to get rid of air bubbles

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