How the F&B industry is using hemp to come with innovative dishes and products

Despite the negative perception of hemp-based food acting as a drug, it is safe to call it the next superfood

Ainee Nizami AhmediUpdated: Friday, October 28, 2022, 09:50 PM IST
Pic: Freepik |

Nine months after the FSSAI (The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) recognised hemp seed, oil, and flour as ‘food’ and allowed the industry to include them in its products, there is still a lot of consumer hesitation regarding its consumption. Despite the negative perception of hemp-based food acting as a drug, it is safe to call it the next superfood. “Hemp seeds are similar to chia, flax, and even quinoa. They are extremely rich in protein, omega fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, iron, dietary fibres, and calcium, making it a fantastic choice for a healthy lifestyle,” explains Yash P. Kotak, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO).

Nutritional value of hemp-based food

Hemp has a nutty, versatile flavour that can be added to most cuisines and drinks. Sahil Adwalpalkar, MD Adwalpalkars and SinQ Hospitality and Founder of Satiwa Alcobev (a homegrown hemp craft gin), has been using hemp in their Gin-based beverages to

enhance the flavour and offer nutritional benefits. “Hemp adds a nice nutty taste to the Gin without overpowering the other botanicals. We use hemp seeds in Satiwa, which has great health benefits,” he shares.

“Hemp seeds are an abundant source of nutrients and have numerous health advantages for the skin, hair, heart, digestive system, and brain. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in any dish and helps improve digestive health, energy, stamina, metabolism, and immunity. It also promotes the growth of healthy hair, nourishes and repairs skin, controls cholesterol levels, and builds lean muscle,” explains Kotak. Apart from being good for the body, it is also a good crop for the environment. “Hemp is a crop that acts as a carbon ‘sink’ by absorbing large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing it in the soil, thus reducing climate change and enhancing soil health,” he adds.

Hemp seeds offer a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E, which are crucial to building the immune system. “Another star quality of hemp seeds is that it is protein-rich, to the tune of 40%. It is a high source of Edestin protein, a highly bioavailable protein that is extremely easy to digest. Hemp seeds are also rich in antioxidants, minerals, and dietary fibres, which are a source of important nutrients for beneficial digestive bacteria,” explains Kotak.

Not a ‘drug’

Hemp is often mistaken as a drug. However, experts believe that the legalisation by the FSSAI will dispel the negative image and help people understand the many positives of hemp-based foods and drinks. Unlike cannabis, hemp contains low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), less than 0.3 per cent. “The hemp revolution is here to stay,” states Adwalpalkar. He believes that way forward is by “focusing on spreading awareness, cross-branding each other’s hemp-based product and speaking about its nutrition and health benefits.”

This year has also seen the rise of hemp-based cafes and kitchens. Pune opened doors to its first legal hemp-based cafe, The Hemp Café. Bhaang sandwiches, hemp smoothies and hemp biscuits are offered on its menu. The Hemp Factory, a cloud kitchen based in Andheri, Mumbai serves hemp-infused food. Pizza bases, burger buns and focaccias are made by swapping some amount of refined flour with hemp flour. “There are various populations in the Himalayas that regularly consume Hemp seeds and their derivatives, even though we only recently categorised them as food. While its nutritional benefits are becoming widely recognised, the key is to formalise and streamline the value chain. This would allow people across the nation to access this superfood,” says Kotak.

Hemp recipes

Double Chocolate Chip Hemp Heart Cookies

Ingredients: ½ cup liquid coconut oil, ¼ cup almond, soy or rice milk, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup coconut or brown sugar, 1 cup hemp seeds, divided, 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or vegan), 2 cups gluten-free or all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp kosher salt.

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla, coconut sugar, three-fourth cup hemp seeds and half cup. Chocolate chips in a blender and puree for 30 seconds or until small pieces remain but the mixture is creamy. In a separate large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the ingredients are combined. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and hemp seeds. Using a small ice cream scoop or two-tablespoon measure, place cookies on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Use the heel of your hand to press cookies down gently and form them into circles. Bake cookies for 11 minutes for softer cookies and 13-14 minutes for crisper cookies.

Hemp Besan Ladoo

Ingredients:1 cup besan/gram flour, ¼ cup ghee, ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp hemp hearts, ½ tsp cardamom powder, 1 tsp hemp powder, 10 almonds for garnishing

Method: Dry roast the besan on a medium flame for about 10-15 mins, and keep stirring. The raw taste should not be there. Add ghee and mix well. Cook the besan till fat separates for about 8-10 minutes, and turn off the flame. Add sugar cardamom powder and hemp powder. Mix well so that there are no lumps. Let the mixture cool completely. Once the mixture is cool, add hemp hearts. Grease your hands with ghee and start forming laddoos. Make smooth and round laddoos. Decorate with almonds. Serve or store in an airtight container.

(Recipes by Santosh Tamang, Head Chef, The Hemp Factory)

Hemp-based products to try

Himalayan Hemp Hearts by BOHECO

These are shelled hemp seeds packed with protein, omega fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, iron, dietary fibres and calcium.

Hemp Protein Powder by India Hemp Organics

The vegan hemp protein powder is one of the most digestible proteins in the world. You can add 2-3 tablespoons to your water and juices, blend it into the atta, or use it for baking bread.

Hemp Power Bar by Health Horizons

The protein bar contains hemp, cashews, raw cacao powder, cocoa butter, and crunchy almonds.

Hemp Bombay Mixture by India Hemp & Co

Say hello to guilt-free snacking. The Hemp Bombay Mixture makes for a great evening snack with a mix of hemp flour, cashew nuts, groundnut, red lentil and sunflower oil.

CBD Oil by Hempstrol

CBD oil can treat and heal various physical and mental ailments, such as joint pain, knee pain, anxiety and insomnia.

Consult a doctor before consuming any hemp-based products.

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