Hail the hearty hemp story

Haute & happening, hemp is good for health in every which way, writes Shilpi Madan

Designs by Boheco

Call it the non-narcotic strain of cannabis, and known as one of the first plants to be spun thousands of years ago into fibre, hemp has a tale to tell. Celebrate it as the healing touch in oil. Hemp is haute, hip and hobnobbing on the food and fashion circuit with unbeatable pizzazz.

Tracing roots

The mention of hemp goes back to the Atharva Veda, where it is celebrated as one of the five sacred plants with therapeutic value. Explains Yash Kotak, co-founder of Boheco and Boheco Life, “We work closely with farmers in Uttarakhand, providing employment and a formal supply chain as hemp is a beautiful rotation crop that can be harvested twice a year.

Hemp has been the easy scapegoat throughout history, often mistaken for other strains of the cannabis family that contain narcotic elements.”

Miracle fibre

Clothes made of hemp are sustainable and grow softer with every wash. Chirag Tekchandaney, co-founder and director at B-Label, the fashion and living arm of Bombay Hemp Company says, “Hemp apparel works great for our tropical weather. It is an extremely breathable fabric and has therapeutic properties owing to its cannabinoid profile that complies with our endocannabinoid system — responsible for enhancing and regulating our physical and cognitive processes. Its versatility includes UV resistance, anti-bacterial quality in fobbing off body odours, and the sheer ability to grow at a rapid pace requiring no pesticides or fertilisers to thrive, is impressive. The supply of hemp is constricted making the cost of the fabric relatively high. Keeping the end product affordable is a big challenge.”

Food factor

Executive chef Viraf Patel of Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra, Mumbai says,“Most people are not aware of the benefits of hemp.” Hemp includes essential fatty acids along with richness of plant-based protein that powers muscle building. No wonder chefs and foodies use the miracle plant in their preparations with gusto. “I have used hemp powder to replace flour in breads and used hemp hearts as a substitute for nuts. What really works in its favour is its sheer versatility,” says Viraf. Hemp seeds and oil are complete proteins in themselves, fit for consumption. Since hemp carries fibre, in powder form it can push aside flour in breads and other products. “You can even use the crunchy seeds instead of bread crumbs for frying fish and chicken; the oil works fabulously in dressings,” he adds. With the palpable shifts towards a more sustainable life, hemp brings in a wealth of solutions both on and off the platter.

Roasted Beet & Grapefruit Salad with Arugula

Arugula lettuce - 1 bunch

Salt - a few pinches

Beetroot - 1 large

Grapefruit - 1 

Hemp oil - 50 ml

Hemp hearts - a few pinches

 >>Wash and Peel the Beetroot, season with salt and some hemp oil, wrap in foil and bake at 170C for 1 hour

>>Segment the grapefruit, reserving the juices.

>>Wash and spin dry the lettuce 

>>Make a dressing with the reserved grapefruit juice, salt and hemp oil.

>>Remove beets and cool down completely and cut into segments 

>>Place the lettuce in a bowl and dress with the dressing 

>>Toss the beets and the grapefruit in some dressing and place over the lettuce

>>Sprinkle with generous amounts of hemp hearts (seeds)

(Recipe courtesy: Chef Viraf Patel)

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