Harissa nuts
How do you inspire and innovate to deliver authentic flavour creation?

The answer is simpler than you might think. Flip things on their head! I, Andrew Bingham, Food Applications Scientist, will discuss deconstructing flavors – in this case harissa – for snacks that can lead to a new sensory experience for consumers.

Novel Snacking Interests

The global pandemic has influenced the way we snack, and new trends are filling the supermarket shelves. Consumers are interested in novel plant-based snacks with interesting flavours from around the globe like tropical, Asian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisines. New and innovative flavours are the number one purchase driver globally for snacks and crisps (Kalsec, 2021). Additionally, consumers want cleaner and shorter ingredient lists.

As trips abroad to different locations remain limited and consumers want to experience these cultures; there is no better way than with an authentic flavoured snack. The increasingly popular Middle Eastern blend, harissa, is a collection of five ingredients: cumin, chili, garlic, onion and paprika. Traditionally eaten as an accompaniment alongside meat and plant-based dishes in the Levantine region, it provides a balanced flavour, bringing both pungency and heat. The word harissa comes from the Arabic verb ‘harasa’, meaning to break or pound into pieces. Taking the spice blend’s original meaning was my inspiration for redefining how this flavour blend can be used to create a new snack.

An Immersive Flavour Journey

Kalsec specializes in clean label single extracts, so simplistically we are taking these wonderful ingredients and blending them to create an authentic combination. We begin the flavour journey with five nuts and five flavours. The taster is immersed in the flavour of each nut and its tasting experience. While the taster may wonder ‘Why am I tasting cumin on a nut?’, the Kalsec team can narrate the story.

Finally, after each of the five elements are tasted individually, they can be eaten together. As you chew and the flavours mingle together, the penny drops. Your tongue starts to tingle with warming chili heat, aromatic flavours develop from cumin, and pungent alliums balance out the blend. The aim of this innovation is to provide our customers with inspiration in the snack sector, to enable them to create new and exciting products. This hands-on demonstration aims to take you back to where we started – innovative, authentic flavour creation.

Appealing to Consumers

Looking at it in a different way, like through the eyes of Roald Dahl’s character Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1971, 2005), I wanted to create an experience which would take the reader – or in this case, the taster – on an immersive journey. Food should be a fun, exciting, and interesting experience for consumers, and this is particularly important when snacking. Since the global Covid-19 pandemic began, over 85% of individuals have altered their diets to make snacking more prevalent (Food Dive, 2020).

Kalsec’s Taste and Sensory Solutions are perfect to create snacks with the consumer appeal that makes them want to try the product and, most importantly, come back for a repeat purchase. Our on-trend, unique blends of herbs and spices have been crafted to deliver an authentic flavour profile, all using naturally sourced ingredients.

Now it’s time to take your own regionally-crafted flavour journey. Request a sample to try in your snack formulation.