Mekhala’s search for the next big, nut-free snack begins in ernest!
As always, for raw materials, we had to consider things like availability, origin, organic options, price, ease of use, flavour. The brief for the snack seemed simple enough - had to be nut free, gluten free, vegan, preferably low in sugar and last but not least, delicious.
Since we used mung beans and soy beans in our Energy rice, they seemed the best place to start. Beans are rich in protein and widely available and loved in Asia. We also considered black bean, pumpkin seed, sunflower and sesame seeds, chicken peas and green peas, among others. Also considered were tropical fruit and dehydrated vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Beans - great idea, lots of protein, but a nightmare to prepare. Requires pre-soaking for up to 8 hours, then draining to remove moisture. Beans get waterlogged and spoil.
Seeds - the usual seeds like sunflower and pumpkin are easy to manage with a lovely flavour with or without toasting. Sesame seeds need to be toasted to release their lovely aroma.
We roasted a bunch to see what happened. Some beans (like red and black) take well to roasting, whilst others (split mung beans) released a white starch that cling to the roaster and burn.
Dried fruit - everyone loves dried fruit but there are many options. Air dried, freeze dried, dehydrated, each with its pros and cons. Sadly many of the air dried fruit we found on the market were saturated with sugar.
None of these stood out as super healthy, delicious or unique. Months later, the superstar ingredient/s remained elusive.