The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Magnum Masterclass in the city

Chocolate or ice cream? The answer would be either of the options or even both in one, like, a chocolate cone or a choc-o-bar. As it is, in the latter choice, chocolate, at least in this city, plays second fiddle to ice cream. But that’s going to change now, and your choice of ice cream will be driven by the chocolate used in it to take it to another level of pure experience. That’s what the Kolkata edition of the masterclass at Taj Bengal showed on 21st February.

Celebrity chef Kunal Kapoor, who has been a judge in Masterchef India, came to the city to teach an audience of mediapersons a thing or two about chocolate and Belgian chocolate in particular and introduce it to the Magnum experience that drives home the point made above. Giving him company was actress Soha Ali Khan, a self-confessed Magnum lover. The audience was overflowing in attendance (perhaps for the pull of the chef). It was an honour for this blogger to be invited to the coveted event by Magnum, one of the world’s leading ice cream brands from Unilever. It was another pleasure to meet other familiar bloggers connected to the Kolkata Bloggers Facebook page in the event.

The masterclass started with the emcee asking to recall fond chocolate memories. Kunal told how gifting imported chocolates to girlfriends was fun and the fact that they were ‘imported’ did its bit to impress.  Kolkata being a city that knows its desserts, the talk shifted to what their favourite Kolkata dessert was. While Soha’s answer was a typical celeb type “I am torn between rosogolla and mishti doi”, Kunal mentioned patisapta as his favourite. Why, asked the emcee. Because “it’s easy, doable and full of flavour.” Full marks to the chef for being able to win the hearts of Bengali foodies. Kunal was fun and down to earth, cracking jokes every now and then (including at the expense of Soha) and slipping into Hindi often. His easygoing charm hooked the audience and stood in contrast to very starry Soha.

The discussion came back to chocolate and turned to Belgian chocolate, and the chef gave a short, enlightening lesson here. He asked the audience to try the chocolate pieces kept on the table- dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. He told to break a piece of dark chocolate in the mouth and push it against the palette. That it melted away, and didn’t stick at all, showed it was good quality dark chocolate. He also reinstated what chocoholics know- White  chocolate is not really chocolate, as chocolate has to have cocoa in decent proportion and white chocolate doesn’t have it. The cocoa butter gives the chocolate its distinctive flavour, and dark chocolate has it in abundance, but milk chocolate, the kind that is popular among masses, has a good amount of milk fat that makes the taste different. Percentage of cocoa varies in chocolate. While in milk chocolate available in the market it is as low as 15%, it can go upto 70-75% in niche dark chocolates. Belgian  chocolate, which is legendary, contains a minimum of 35% cocoa, which is amongst the highest in the world. It gives the chocolate a rich and indulgent flavour and a high grade, and it makes it premium too.  Another interesting fact is that white chocolate will mellow you, while dark chocolate will keep you awake.

Magnum uses Belgian chocolate only, and the chocolate that goes into it is even more special, being patented for the brand by the biggest chocolate maker of Belgium. It comes in three variants (only in stick or bar)- Classic (which is your good old choc-o-bar), Almond (almond studded chocolate crust covering rich vanilla) and Chocolate Truffle (Chocolate sauce running into chocolate coated vanilla). It will be available in the leading outlets in the city from 1st March and costs quite a premium- Rs 90 each bar (90 ml).

The chef, the star and all of us bit into Magnum together, and the first bite gave a distinctive crack that the product is known for. I had chosen the Classic. The chocolate was definitely distinct and its slight bitter, rich taste left a mark. The vanilla inside was top grade too!

Now, what’s a masterclass without some cooking? So Kunal made his special, Kolkata dish with Magnum, which was a spin to his local favourite- patisapta. It turned out a cone made with the pancake of patisapta (held up by a paper cone), and cut out Magnum pieces, along with khoya (milk solids), nuts, cranberry etc making the filling.

Photo by Anirban Saha
Kunal's fusion patisapta with Magnum

It ended with the chef opening the floor and getting his audience members in various round tables make their own versions of sundae using a Magnum bar and other dry ingredients provided at each table. And some tables did a good job that the chef found interesting.

The press kit was innovative. It included the soft copy of the press release and other support material in a chocolate bar shaped pen drive!

Fellow bloggers from Kolkata Bloggers group.
Group admin Anirban Saha third from right  

Looking forward to Kolkata loving its Magnum experience! 

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