Salt is a very important ingredient in the culinary world. They come in a variety of colours, flavours and tastes and their availability varies across the globe. These diversity is derived from the crystalization of minerals of its place of origin.
What is Black Salt?
Black salt or also known as Kala Namak (or “Kala Namak” in Gujerati) is a salty and pungent-smelling condiment used in South Asia. The raw material for producing kala namak was originally obtained from natural halite from mines in Northern India and Pakistan in certain locations of the Himalayas salt ranges, or from salt harvested from the North Indian salt lakes of Sambhar or Didwana or could also be found in other regions with similar geographical properties.
The condiment is composed largely of sodium chloride with several impurities lending the salt its colour and smell. The smell is mainly due to its sulfur content. Due to the presence of Greigite (Fe3S4, Iron(II,III) sulfide) in the mineral, it forms brownish pink to dark violet translucent crystals when whole, and, when ground into a powder, it is light purple to pink in color. It is more tan than black, and has a very strong, sulfuric flavor and available in the markets, either ground or in lumps.
It is used extensively in South Asian cuisines of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan as a condiment or added to chaats, chutneys, all kinds of fruits, raitas and many other savory Indian snacks. Chaat masala, an Indian spice blend, is dependent upon black salt for its characteristic sulfurous hard-boiled egg aroma. Those who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as similar to rotten eggs. Kala Namak is appreciated by vegans in dishes that mimic the taste of eggs. It is used, for example, to spice tofu to mimic an egg salad.
Kala Namak is considered a cooling spice in ayurvedic medicine and is used as a laxative and digestive aid. It is also believed to relieve intestinal gas and heartburn. It is used in Jammu to cure goiters. This salt is also used to treat hysteria, and for making toothpastes by combining it with other mineral and plant ingredients.
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