India's First Hemp-Based Delivery Kitchen Now Open In Mumbai
Image Credit: The Marley Brownie by The Hemp Factory

There are some things in the culinary world that will always spark conversation. Pineapples on pizzas, the validity of veg biryani and now that India’s racing into the future we can add one more name to the list – hemp seed. The much-maligned, most often misunderstood ingredients were finally vindicated in November 2021 when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allowed the sale of hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp flour as food and an ingredient for food. People jumped on the opportunity and hemp-based cafes began springing up in different areas of the country. In June 2022, another milestone was crossed as Mumbai got its first ever hemp-centric cloud kitchen with the opening of The Hemp Factory. 

Co-founders Dhaval Panchal, Navneet Shetty, Kajal Lahane & Saurabh Dhonde, in partnership with Bombay Hemp Company (BoHeCo) – an organisation that for years has been championing the use of hemp as a medicinal product – this creative kitchen is here to change public opinion, educate and of course, dole out delicious food. To do this, they decided to make optimum use of their packaging, printing facts and information on all their delivery containers to ensure people were fully aware of the meal they were about to eat. “Awareness is the most important part.” says Dhaval Panchal, co-founder and CEO of The Hemp Factory, “We have such a long history of hemp use in India so it’s just a matter of spreading the right knowledge about the nutritional value.”

Often referred to as hemp hearts, the seeds of the Cannabis Sativa plant and their powdered version are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals. “It’s got more protein than eggs!” adds Panchal who after 7 years of working with BoHeCo is thrilled to have broken into a space where he can deliver this message literally to people's doorsteps. “Although,” he laughs, “you’ll still get those one or two customers who leave angry reviews because our products don’t make you high. It happens most with our brownies.”

Pasta Hempkin
Image Credit: The Hemp Factory

With a wide range of pizzas, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, shakes and more, they’re all set to serve every craving. Their menu took over seven months to curate and they brought in two expert chefs who painstakingly tested each menu item. It was through endless trial and error that they worked out the ideal proportion of hemp powder that needed to be in every dish to give it the best nutritional value as well as an exceptional flavour. “The difference with us is that at The Hemp Company, the hemp is actually blended into the food,” explains Panchal, “Most places just sprinkle some hemp powder on top, but you can’t get the benefits that way. That’s why we worked so long on giving each dish the highest amount of hemp powder possible.”

They’re still new in town but they’re only just getting started and have lots of plans to expand their outreach. “We have educational videos coming out, and we hope to introduce a QSR model in the future so we can connect directly with our customers,” says Panchal. Their plan is to show Mumbai what its been missing when it comes to hemp products by serving up readymade items that emphasise how its nutritional benefits can be incorporated into real life. Breaking the stigma is the first step toward an open and accepting future for hemp seeds and what better way to do it than through delicious, binge-worthy food? As Panchal puts it “If we can have a 5-year-old and a 50-year-old both enjoying our burgers and its benefits, then we’ll know we’re making a change.”