The sound of a wrapper crinkling, the smooth texture of chocolate; the creamy taste as it melts on your tongue – only one word can sum it up all – PARADISE! But have you ever stopped to wonder what goes into making chocolate so sinfully delicious? Cocoa powder, sugar, milk… you may be able to guess a few. Yet there is one ingredient, which complements chocolate like Yin brings out the best in Yang, and that is Vanilla!
The vanilla pods are a powerhouse of flavours so intense that just a few drops can enhance any dish to supreme levels of ecstasy. Yet, this magical essence gets lost many a time among other flavours and aromas – becoming the unsung hero. But that’s where the Indian Vanilla Initiative (IVI) steps in; giving both the flavor as well as the country a global identity.
History goes that vanilla was offered, along with a chocolate drink to the Gods – no wonder it still remains the world’s favourite flavour even centuries later! Presenting this age-old produce in a contemporary way, IVI and its manufacturing arm Expovan, based out of Pollachi, has redefined how Indian and international customers perceive and use vanilla.
The brains behind the initiative, Dr. Mahendran R., has one view – to make natural and pure vanilla available to the masses – and he’s succeeded in initiating just that through brands like Ibaco ice creams, Aavin natural vanilla flavoured milk and others.
He’s made the reach of vanilla travel far and wide, and land upon the tables of some of the world’s best chefs at Le Cordon Bleu, as well as in the kitchens of hospitality giants like the Taj and Oberoi group of hotels.
Know Your Vanilla
Here’s where the stress on natural vanilla needs to be emphasized – what most of us consume in food, or lather on as moisturizers, contains artificial or imitation ingredients. When scientists found out that procuring the real substance was a laborious process, they began a quest for alternate sources of vanilla.
It was discovered that one of the 250 compounds that are housed in a single bean of vanilla called ‘Vanillin’, is a major contributor to the flavour. This compound was available in petrochemicals like coal and tar. Through chemical processes, they extracted it and added it to edibles, labelling it as artificial flavouring. No sooner, this compound was also sourced from wood pulp, rice bran, and other substances – and came to be known as nature identical or imitation vanilla.
But as Dr. Mahendran says, “Even imitation is not natural – only the flavour derived directly from the vanilla pods/beans is true and pure.” It was his vigour to provide real vanilla to people, that motivated him to study the plant, its nutrients, characteristics, and requirements, that shaped IVI and Expovan into what they are today.
Not stopping at just this, a chain of products under the brand “Goodness Vanilla”, hit shelves at retail stores across the country. Gourmet vanilla pods and extracts that smell simply heavenly, and even vanilla in a powdered form, are some of the products they manufacture.
The logic is quite simple: they’re all handcrafted with love and care, and come from the best of plants grown in the healthiest of environments.
“You can’t grow vanilla if you don’t respect nature,”
says this pioneer, who showed the world that Indian vanilla is even better than the most popular Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar.
The produce from a plant in other parts of the world may represent the same raw material as what grows in IVI’s farms – but where they become a class apart is, in the processing.
“It is an art,”
says Dr. Mahendran, who sculpted these techniques to perfection. Right from the way the pods are picked, to the way the sun gently kisses their tenderness, and how they’re allowed to rest in the shade; his passion to perfect this complex flavor, is evident at every stage.
Experts from around the world have conducted aroma and flavour profiles of these extracts, only to find that they hit the perfect notes – creamy, chocolaty, with a mild fruitfulness, leaving behind a lustful after-taste that keeps you wanting more.
So if you want to bring out the MasterChef in you, purchase some of Goodness Vanilla’s products, and whip up a dish that will charm the socks off your family!
Use the extract, pods or powder in either a savory or sweet recipe, and send it to us firstname.lastname@example.org. It may find itself among one of the recipes in a cookbook to be launched by the company.
The products are available at leading supermarkets across the country as well as on amazon.in and bigbasket.com.
For more details about the Indian Vanilla Initiative, Goodness Vanilla products, and some mouth-watering recipes, visit – http://goodnessvanilla.com/