Chocolate hero Anita Jaisinghani

Anita Jaisinghani

Pondicheri Bake Shop

Anita Jaisinghani

Meet Houston Chocolate Hero Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri Bake Shop!

'Dark chocolate has been all the rage for the last decade thanks to its low sugar percentage and high antioxidants. However, some people appreciate more sweetness to balance cacao’s bitter notes. That includes Jaisignanhi.

“I love milk chocolate!” she says. “I love dark chocolate, too, because it’s good for me. However, I grew up in India and never even saw dark chocolate until I came to the United States. So for me, milk chocolate is very nostalgic. Dark chocolate is a very austere way to eat chocolate, and to me, it is all about luxury. I don’t want to eat chocolate that is 95-percent dark. I want to eat chocolate that is tasty and gives me pleasure. I’m not eating chocolate for health reasons!”

Jaisinghani is a three-time James Beard Award nominee. Remarkably, becoming a chef and restaurateur wasn’t her initial career path. She first worked as a microbiologist. After coming to the United States though, she soon turned her love of food into a career. She started with a catering business and managed to get her jarred chutneys placed on the shelves of Whole Foods. Her foray into the Houston restaurant world started at James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Del Grande’s original Café Annie. In 2005, she opened a restaurant of her own, Indika, and followed it up with the first Pondicheri in 2011 (In 2017, she discontinued her involvement with Indika). The offerings were expanded with Pondicheri Bake Shop + Lab in 2014, located just upstairs from the restaurant. Then, Jaisinghani made a big leap and opened a second Pondicheri in New York City’s Flatiron District.

One of Jaisinghani’s favorite things to do with chocolate is infuse it with spices from her native India. Complex blends like curry powder and garam masala enhance chocolate, as do individual spices such as black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. That said, she believes it is important to use restraint. “Spices are great but I am very careful on how much I use because I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh my gosh, that was a lot of black pepper.’ I want the spices to be a lingering flavor. I want the chocolate to be the first thing to hit your senses.” When selecting chocolate, Jaisinghani wants something that melts easily, is of great quality and is fresh.

To celebrate Houston Chocolate Hero Month, Chef Jaisinghani featured her 5 Star Milk Chocolate Bar. This chocolate bar is infused with traditional Indian spices: cardamom and cinnamon, boondi (sweetened and fried chickpea flour ball) and Bournvita (malted chocolate mix).