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Hemp Is Happening: Meet The Versatile Culinary Hero

ByNamya Sinha
May 29, 2023 01:24 PM IST

With its nutty flavour, this nutrient-dense ingredient is being adapted into a wide range of food and beverage innovations, catering to the evolving preferences of consumers

Hemp, is emerging a game changer in the food and beverage (F&B) industry in India. Once a controversial ingredient as it gets associated with Cannabis, hemp is breaking new ground in culinary creations and is also, challenging conventional notions about it. In fact, for those wondering, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification on 15th November 2021, stating, “The hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming standards.”

Hemp seeds and oil (Photo: Shutterstock)
Hemp seeds and oil (Photo: Shutterstock)

Dhaval Panchal, co-founder, The Hemp Factory (THF), India’s first hemp-based cloud kitchen based out of Mumbai since 2022, says, “Hemp is our principal food ingredient and is infused in all dishes in the form of oil, seeds or flour, giving a nutritious and affordable alternative for comfort food.” Some of their bestsellers include the Marley Brownie, Chicken Haze Pizza, Magic Mushroom Sandwich and Hempzilla burger. Explaining how the superfood is used, he adds, “You need to balance the proportion of hemp in every dish to make it tasty and nutritious. Hemp flour can replace the regular, unhealthy maida; nutty in flavour, hemp hearts can be used in making milk, gravies, sweets and patties; and hemp seed oil can be used in dressings and sauces.”

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Hemp-infused dessert, The Marley Brownie by The Hemp Factory (Instagram/ thehempfactoryofficial)
Hemp-infused dessert, The Marley Brownie by The Hemp Factory (Instagram/ thehempfactoryofficial)

Hemp Facts

One question that often gets asked, is if hemp seeds will get you high? “Although hemp seeds come from the cannabis plant, they cannot get you high. THC is the psychoactive component that is present only in the leaves and fruiting or flowering tops of the cannabis plant. No matter how potent the leaves and flowering tops may be, the seeds biologically do not have any THC in them. Hemp seeds are high in protein and also have all the 9 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce. They are a pure source of nutrition packed with Proteins, PUFAs, vitamins and minerals,” says Revanth Kaza, Co-founder Hemptyful.

The Rise Of Hemp

From hemp milk made out of seeds to plant-based protein bars, the versatility of hemp has led to brands coming up with numerous products in their portfolio. According to a report by IMARC Group, the global hemp-based food market size reached US $1.3 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach US$ 3.1 billion by 2028, exhibiting a growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1% during 2023–2028.

High On Taste And Health

Of late,hemp seeds have become a sought- after superfood due to their exceptional nutrient content. “Hemp seeds have nine essential amino acids. They are a pure source of nutrition packed with proteins, PUFAs, vitamins and minerals,” says Revanth Kaza, co-founder of Hemptyful. The range of products includes hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds), cold-pressed hemp seed oil, spreads and dips. “We have launched a range of hemp butters which can be used as spreads, dips, salad dressings, saute sauces and more. The range sits perfectly at the intersection of nutrition, sustainability and absolute deliciousness”, adds Kaza.

Hemp seed butter (Photo: Shutterstock)
Hemp seed butter (Photo: Shutterstock)

There are myriad of ways in which hemp is being added to various creations by the food and beverages sector. For instance, Goa-based Satiwa uses hemp seeds as the key botanical for their Hemp Craft Gin. “Hemp seeds have various health benefits and has a nice nutty flavour, which complimented our other botanicals in the gin.The response has been excellent. People have loved the flavour profiles of both our regular gin and the latest limited edition, passionfruit-flavoured gin called Satiwa Passion. Considering the great response, we have hemp-based rum in the pipeline,” says founder of Satiwa, Sahil Adwalpalkar. In Kasol and Manali (Himachal Pradesh), Off Limits Cafe has been serving hemp-infused beverages and food, such as hemp-infused coffee and hot chocolate, hemp-infused maggi, pizzas, pastas and more.

Hemp flour bread (Photo: Shutterstock)
Hemp flour bread (Photo: Shutterstock)

How Much Hemp Is Enough?

Rohit Shah, co-founder and CEO of Health Horizons, says that the quantity of hemp to be used depends on the formulation. “For instance, in our chocolate hemp protein powder, hemp is the majority ingredient and chocolate or raw cocoa, coconut sugar are less than 10%. While in the energy bars we make, hemp is only a 10% ingredient. Similarly, hemp hearts are used to make hemp milk, where you need a 1:5 ratio of hemp hearts to water.” The brand Health Horizons brought organic sativa hemp products to the Indian market.

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