Most dentists will tell you to cut down on chocolates, but Pragati Sawhney is of a different tribe.
Dentist-turned-entrepreneur Pragati Sawhney brews chocolate that’s healthy for your teeth. She was inspired to create a socially conscious business during a semester course in Social Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School while pursuing her Master’s degree. On her return from the US in 2011, she founded Chockriti, a boutique chocolate house in Delhi. Pragati explains the ethos behind
Woman This Month: Did you have formal training as a chocolatier?
Pragati Sawhney (PS): I learnt through chocolate tasting tours during travel in Germany, New York and California and did hands workshops at the International Culinary Institute, NY and at Barry Callebaut (glass desserts).
WTM: From a nutritional aspect, chocolate is perceived as sinful and the first thing to avoid if you want to lose weight. What’s your take on this?
PS: Natural dark chocolate with over 60 percent cocoa is low in sugar and contains more age-defying antioxidants than goji, acai and other berries. Dark chocolate has the second highest concentration of anti-oxidant rich resveratrol, next to red wine. Flavonoids in dark chocolate regulate blood pressure. Epicatechin is found to reduce heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Pure dark chocolate was found to delay formation of plaque on the teeth, so it actually helps in the prevention of cavities.
I use high quality European couvertures with 56-71 percent cacao. Except for a teaspoon of cream for the fillings, no butter, sugar or corn syrup is added. However, ‘compound chocolate’ that’s made with cocoa powder, milk powder and sugar has no real nutritional benefit. So, please check labels before buying!
WTM: Some of your flavours such as Shiitake Nori and Wasabi seem quirky. How do your clients respond to these?
PS: My clients are people who enjoy world cuisine. In India, people who’re well travelled or foodies use ingredients like wasabi and Kaffir lime at home. Unconventional flavours are getting a good response. Recently, at an event at Westin Hotel, a lady bought a whole box of the Zaatar Spice Truffles.
WTM: What’s the social angle to your venture?
PS: I wanted to help less privileged women so they could feel empowered to face their challenges. I found a local NGO which was looking to place its vocational training graduates. I took some women on board and trained them with fair wages. They’ve been working with me for almost a year.
WTM: Tell us about your Bahrain connection. To what extent do you cater to the Arab palate?
PS: I grew up in Bahrain and later worked there as dental faculty at College of Health Sciences. Arabic herbs and spices inspired me to create flavours such as Orange Blossom, Kahwa, Moroccan Mint, Date Rose and Hibiscus. I’ve tied up with a courier service for delivery in the Middle East within 72 hours. Given the local weather, we pack chocolates in ice gels so they stay cool during the transit. Visit www.chockriti.com