Salt is the one ingredient we literally cannot live without: it flavors and preserves food, as well as contributing to the smooth functioning of our nervous system. Sodium (its main component) helps maintain the perfect hydro-saline balance in our body and it is essential that we consume salt in some form each day.
But you might not know that there’s a whole world behind this simple ingredient!
Salt can be found in many colors, shapes, scents, and flavors thanks to other substances enriching its formula and providing several different benefits and uses.
Let’s discover a very special type of salt: Kala Namak, also sometimes called Himalayan Black Salt.
Salt from the North of India
As its name suggests, this salt comes from Northern India and Pakistan. It’s sourced from volcanic regions, and is extracted from mines carved in mountain rocks or from saline lakes in the Rajasthan region of India.
Unlike sea salt, Kala Namak goes through a special process giving it a peculiar flavor profile and a distinctive aroma.
The raw material extracted in mines is named halite and it looks like mineral crystals. These blocks are then cut into smaller pieces and put into a ceramic jar together with coal and other natural ingredients like Indian gooseberries, harad seeds and bahera.
The sealed jars are then placed in special furnaces at extremely high temperatures for 24h. A chemical process is induced that changes the salt’s color, scent, and flavor. The salt is then ground and aged before being sold for use as a spice in traditional Asian cuisines.
What is Kala Namak Salt made of, exactly?
Like common salt, it is mainly made of sodium chloride. But Indian Black Salt differs from other kinds of salt thanks to a few compounds enriching its formula: sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, iron sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide. These minerals are responsible for its unusual flavor and aroma.
What does it look like?
In its crystallized form, Kala Namak is dark purple, brown, or almost black. But when it is crushed and ready for consumption, it turns a light pinkish purple color.
Other than its unusual color, its main and most striking feature is a slightly sulfurous smell. The sulfur in the salt gives it a strong taste of egg when used in cooking. It might not seem so inviting, but it’s intense, aromatic, and definitely unique! Its flavor profile can be described as savory, pungent, and umami.
When and how can Kala Namak be used in your everyday life?
Kala Namak salt has a wide range of uses – both in the kitchen and in other areas of daily life!
In your kitchen
- Organic Kala Namak is a widespread ingredient in Asia. It's very common to find it both in private houses and restaurants, especially in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. A package of black salt flakes is something ethnic food lovers should absolutely keep in their pantry! If you’ve ever traveled to one of these countries, you know that their typical flavors and scents are unforgettable. With the right ingredients, you can recreate these dishes at home.
- Kala Namak is also a key ingredient in vegan cuisine: thanks to its special aroma and taste, it can add a hint of eggs to any vegan dish!
- Kala Namak Salt is also the perfect gourmet touch to be added to any “plain” ingredient like potatoes, rice or noodles. Turn a boring weekday dinner into something special with zero effort!
As part of your beauty routine
Kala Namak Salt is skin-friendly: it helps cleansing clogged pores and absorbing excess sebum. Make your own homemade skin care product by mixing Kala Namak with a little olive oil and your favorite herbs or essential oils to make a scrub.
As an Ayurvedic remedy
In Asia, Kala Namak Salt has been used in Ayurvedic medicine since 300 BC! It is used as a cooling spice and it is especially considered a great remedy for a wide range of digestive problems.
What are the best pairings for Kala Namak Salt?
- Tofu: with Kala Namak, vegans can bring the taste of eggs to a hearty breakfast without compromising their diet! Try some tofu scramble seasoned with black salt, black pepper, and turmeric and you’ll hardly notice the difference! Try also some flavorful marinated tofu or some crispy stir-fried tofu to be served with a fresh raw salad.
- Veggies: a plant-based diet is definitely healthy, but sometimes eating the same old flavors can get boring. Give your veggies a twist by adding a pinch of Kala Namak Salt and other spices to create your own special seasoning mix! Grilled, roasted, fried, or even salads: explore all the different sides of seasonal greens! The best pairings for black salt? Asparagus, mushroom, red bell pepper, chickpea, and spinach.
- Pasta: try some vegan carbonara by replacing eggs with some Kala Namak Salt or have fun inventing a new noodle recipe every day.
- Rice: plain boiled rice comes alive with the right seasoning, but you can also prepare a gourmet version of your favorite stir-fried rice.
- Mayo: did you know that being vegan does not mean giving up your favorite sauces and tasty seasoning? Raw vegan mayo is super easy and quick to make! You should always keep a jar of vegan mayo in your fridge to enrich a last-minute sandwich or to season your daily salad.
- Potatoes: who does not love a creamy potato salad? Mustard and Kala Namak Salt taste so good together! Sweet potatoes will also surprise you with an unconventional flavor when seasoned with black salt.
- Fruits: fruit chaats are the Indian version of a common fruit salad and it tastes both sweet and spicy at the same time. Use fresh seasonal fruits (or even frozen ones) and learn how to make chaat sauce using Kala Namak and other typical Indian spices and aromas. Chutneys can also benefit from the use of Kala Namak Salt (try one with tamarind for example).
- Avocado: from the iconic avocado toast to an unusual avocado pesto sauce for your noodles or spaghetti… unleash your imagination and get creative! Avocado takes seasoning very well, so it’s the perfect base for your experiments with unconventional ingredients and flavors.
- Lemon/lime: fresh and tangy is what you expect any summer drink to be! Try some spiced Indian lemonade or create your own spiced non-alcoholic drink! A tiny pinch of Kala Namak in your concoction will add a whole new dimension. A few tips? Pair it with crushed cumin, mint leaves or a slice of fresh ginger, and serve your original homemade drink at your next summer party!
- Yogurt: either in a sauce, a salad dressing or even in a fruit dessert, yogurt and Kala Namak Salt are the perfect combo! Take inspiration from some Indian raita recipes! A quick one? Plain yogurt, thai green chili, fresh ginger, sugar, Kala Namak Salt, cucumber, and fresh cilantro.
Keep in mind that Kala Namak has a very intense flavor and a pungent aroma and it should be used in small amounts! Because of the unique flavor it brings to your dishes, it is not a direct substitute for common salt, so you’d better be prepared!
Health Benefits of Kala Namak Salt
The therapeutic benefits of black salt have been known by traditional practitioners for centuries. Here are some of the more common benefits:
- Common salt is made of 100% sodium chloride, while Kala Namak Salt is also composed of other substances, which make it more suitable for people on a low-sodium diet or suffering from hypertension.
- Black salt is a natural blood thinner that can be helpful in controlling blood circulation.
- Kala Namak Salt is not bleached nor refined, unlike common white salt. This way, it has no residual chemical traces, which makes it a healthier and more natural ingredient for your recipes.
- It can help reduce heartburn thanks to its alkaline properties. It also lessens the damage caused by acid reflux.
- It can cure bloating.
- It has laxative properties.
- Thanks to its unique mineral composition, it is rich in potassium which is vital to the proper functioning of all muscles. Potassium also prevents leg cramps and muscular spasms.
- Mineral salts contribute to hair health by making it stronger. It also helps slow down hair loss.
- Kala Namak Salt is rich in iron, which can help people suffering from different forms of anemia.
- Black salt is a natural detoxifier: melt it into a cup of warm water and help your body eliminate all toxins!
Where can you buy Kala Namak Salt?
Kala Namak is very common in Asia where you can easily find it in local markets and shops. But it is considered a rare ingredient in Western countries and you won’t find it so easily in an ordinary supermarket or your local grocery store. Visit our online shop to purchase Salt’s Up Kala Namak and have this secret ingredient conveniently delivered straight to your door, ready for all your cooking experiments.
Get ready to explore ethnic cuisine, start your vegan diet, or cook like a pro chef any time you want, with this secret weapon in your pantry!