With a perception from consumers that legume-based snacks are a healthier alternative to other snacks due to a higher nutrient content, snack food manufacturers are looking at the use of legumes as a base ingredient for creative and flavorful snack products.
Namkeen, the home of legume snacks
When it comes to legume snacks, Namkeen leads the way in variety and flavor. Namkeen is a broad term for salty snacks traditionally consumed in South Asian cultures, covering a range of products including whole legumes such as green peas, chickpeas, peanuts, cashews, Moong Dal, Lentils, and dough based extruded products. Depending on regional taste preferences, Namkeen can be coated, highly or lightly seasoned with spices or not seasoned at all, and come individually or blended into mixtures, like Bombay mix or Theeka Meetha, Khatta Meetha, Navarattan, Panchrattan or Chanachur.
Demand for Namkeen outside of traditional markets like India and South Africa has grown significantly. With decades of experience in snack processing, Heat and Control has observed this trend develop across international markets, as snack food manufacturers increase the use of legumes as a base ingredient for their snack products.
Legume Flour Bases
Many legumes are manufactured into flours and are used as the basis for formulations that are used in low-pressure forming systems. One prominent snack application is extrusion. The number of shapes, sizes and ingredients are extremely diverse, but the basic principles involved in producing this product are quite similar. Besan/gram flour (chickpea), soybean and pea flour for example, are mixed with other ingredients to obtain a dough or batter suitable for extruding. Extrusion technology enables numerous products to be made such as Bhujia and Boondi.
BHUJIA – is where the Besan flour dough mix is extruded into long straws which are then broken into small pieces after frying. This product has many variations for final flavors, shapes and presentations and is either packaged and sold separately as Aloo Bhujia or Sev or as a main ingredient in most Namkeen mixtures.
BOONDI – is a spherical shaped product made from Besan flour batter, where traditional cooking methods have been to hand-form the balls through a special sieve arrangement into a large batch frying system. Heat and Control has extrusion systems to automate this process.
Creative recipes for additional flavor
With clever formulations of the legume flour base or including ingredients into the dough, the characteristics and flavor of the final product is enhanced. As a result, it may not be necessary to add topical seasoning or flavoring onto the products after they are fried, as the base product tastes good on its own.
Seasoning is an obvious area where manufacturers can get creative with legume snacks and design endless number of products by adjusting the proportions of the legume, the cooking technique and the flavors added. Seasoning after frying or baking is easily done with various seasoning application equipment either Process Area Seasoning or On-Machine Seasoning systems.
Popular Namkeen Snacks
Besan flour dough mix is extruded into long straws which are then broken into small pieces after frying. Has many variations for final flavors, shapes and presentations, and commonly mixed in most variety products such as Bombay mix.
A spherical shaped product made from Besan flour batter, was traditionally hand-formed using a sieve directly into a large batch fryer. Heat and Control has developed extrusion systems to automate this process.
3. MUNG (MOONG) DAL
Moong Dal is a de-husked mung bean that is hydrated, dewatered, fried, cooled and then packed. It is eaten on its own or mixed with other ingredients.
4. GREEN PEAS
Peas have high protein and carbohydrate content and eaten as a fried snack on its own or consumed as part of a variety such as Chanahur.
5. BATTER COATED PEANUTS
Peanuts that are coated with traditional spice flavors mixed with Besan flour.
6. FRIED CHICKPEAS
Chickpeas are fried and seasoned and in some recipes the chickpea is flattened. Chickpeas have high protein and low fat and high fiber content.
The diversity of snack foods that can be produced using different legumes has long provided a challenge for manufacturers to develop a high-quality product with unique flavoring, while having the capability to develop a frying system to cook these products on the same line. With decades of experience working with the South Asian snack market in Legume and Extrusion processing, our goal was to develop a multi-purpose frying system for food manufacturers to process the raw materials which make up this complex snack product. The flexibility in design is critical, as manufacturers want to be able to use a variety of ingredients on the same equipment line.
In the case of processing whole legumes (green peas), most have a skin and can be prone to thermal shock which results in explosion during frying. This will also increase fines suspended in the oil and reduce output volume. These issues were taken into consideration when a customized snack frying system was developed, resulting in less damage to product during production, reduction in processing time and cost savings through oil use reduction.
The end result was the HeatWave® Snack Fryer, a specialty snack frying system, which efficiently fries nuts, pellets, Namkeen and other snacks using less system oil volume than conventional fryers. This innovative design cooks snacks using curtains of clean filtered oil, which transfers heat more efficiently than submersion techniques. Oil passes over the product and through the conveyor, quickly carrying fines out of the fryer to produce the highest product quality and cleanest operation of any fryer. The fryer is essentially a standard, inside belt return HeatWave Snack Frying system, but with the oil outlet at the discharge of the fryer and fitted with an integrated infeed flume. The infeed options available allow for the handling of extruded noodles, batter coated peanuts, Boondi, and various nuts, peas and lentils.