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What Is Black Salt?
Black salt, also known as kala namak or sanchal, is a type of rock salt that is dark purple to blackish in colour. It’s commonly used in South Asian and Indian cuisine and is known for its unique sulfurous and pungent aroma, which resembles the smell of hard-boiled eggs. Despite its name, black salt is not entirely black. It actually has various shades of purple and pink.
Black salt is harvested from salt mines in India and is typically composed of sodium chloride, along with various impurities and trace minerals, including sulfates, sulfides, and iron. The distinctive flavour of black salt is primarily due to the presence of sulfur compounds, particularly hydrogen sulfide. This gives it that “eggy” taste and makes it a popular ingredient in vegan and vegetarian cooking, where it is used to mimic the flavour of eggs in dishes like tofu scrambles and vegan omelets.
In addition to its culinary uses, black salt is also used in Ayurvedic medicine for its potential health benefits. It is believed to aid digestion and is used as a remedy for various digestive issues.
Black salt can be found in many specialty food stores and is commonly used as a seasoning or condiment in various dishes, particularly in Indian and South Asian cuisines. It’s important to note that there are two main types of black salt: one that is used in cooking (kala namak) and another that is used for ritual or religious purposes. The former is edible, while the latter is not meant for consumption.
What Are The Nutritional Facts of Black Salt?
Black salt is primarily composed of sodium chloride, but it also contains various impurities and trace minerals that give it its distinctive flavour and colour. Here are some of the nutritional properties of black salt:
Black salt, like common table salt, is predominantly composed of sodium chloride. It contains a significant amount of sodium, which is an essential mineral for various bodily functions, including fluid balance and nerve function. However, excessive sodium intake can lead to health issues like high blood pressure.
In addition to sodium, black salt contains trace amounts of potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals are present in very small quantities and do not significantly contribute to your daily nutritional needs. Nevertheless, they can provide minor nutritional benefits.
The distinctive flavour of black salt comes from the presence of sulfur compounds, particularly hydrogen sulfide. These compounds give it an aroma resembling hard-boiled eggs and contribute to its unique taste. While sulfur is an essential element for the human body, the amount found in black salt is not nutritionally significant.
Like all types of salt, black salt is virtually calorie-free. For that reason, it does not provide a significant source of energy.
Based on the latest research, here are the nutrition facts of black salt:
|Nutrient||Amount per 100 grams|
Keep in mind that the nutritional content of black salt can vary depending on its source and processing. Different brands and sources may have slightly different compositions, but the primary components, such as sodium chloride and sulfur compounds, should remain consistent.
What Are Some Black Salt Uses?
Cooking with black salt can add a unique and sulfurous flavour to your dishes. It’s commonly used in various South Asian and Indian recipes, particularly to give a hint of an eggy taste to vegan and vegetarian dishes. Here are some ways to use black salt in your cooking:
Black salt is often used to mimic the flavour of eggs in tofu scrambles. Simply crumble the tofu and sauté it with black salt, turmeric, nutritional yeast, and other seasonings of your choice. To retain its eggy flavour, we recommend adding the black salt towards the end of the cooking process.
You can make a vegan omelet using chickpea flour and black salt. To make a vegan omelet, mix chickpea flour with water, black salt, nutritional yeast, and other seasonings, and then cook it like a traditional omelet. Similarly, you can add some black salt to a premade vegan egg replacement, such as Just Egg.
Chaat and Chaat Masala
Black salt is often used in various chaat recipes and chaat masala blends to enhance the overall flavor of street food snacks. It pairs well with potatoes, chickpeas, and tamarind chutney. You’ll also find it sprinkled on Fruit Chaat, a popular South Asian fruit salad.
Chutneys and Pickles
Black salt can be incorporated into various chutneys and pickles for a unique flavour. It can particularly add depth to green chutneys, tamarind chutneys, and pickled mixed vegetables.
Chaat Masala Recipe
Black salt can be used as a finishing touch on dishes like salads, fries, and roasted vegetables. Be cautious with the quantity, however, as black salt has a strong flavour, and a little goes a long way.
Mango Powder Substitute
Mango powder, also known as amchur, is commonly seen in South Indian recipes. If you don’t have mango powder on hand, you can use a small amount of black salt as a substitute. The black salt will provide a similar tangy flavour.
It’s important to keep in mind that when cooking with black salt, it’s essential to use it sparingly. Start with a small amount, taste your dish, and adjust as needed, as its sulfurous flavour can quickly become overpowering. The distinctive eggy taste of black salt may not be suitable for all dishes.
What Are The Health Benefits of Black Salt?
Black salt is associated with various health benefits, particularly in Ayurvedic and traditional medicine. However, it’s important to note that scientific research on the specific health effects of black salt is limited. Here are some potential health benefits attributed to black salt:
- May Help With Digestion: Black salt is believed to aid digestion and is often used as a remedy for various digestive issues. It is thought to promote the production of digestive enzymes and reduce bloating and gas. Some people use it in recipes to improve overall digestive health.
- Helps Neutralize Stomach Acids: In Ayurvedic medicine, black salt is sometimes used as a remedy for hyperacidity and heartburn. It is believed to have alkalizing properties that can help neutralize excess stomach acid.
- Rich in Minerals: Black salt contains various minerals and trace elements, such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. While it is not a significant source of these nutrients, its mineral content may offer some nutritional benefits when consumed in small amounts.
- May Improve Respiratory Health: Some traditional practices use black salt to alleviate respiratory issues like asthma. The sulfurous compounds in black salt are believed to have potential benefits for respiratory health.
- Helps Balance Electrolytes: The presence of minerals in black salt may help support electrolyte balance in the body, especially when used as a seasoning in small quantities.
- Skin Health: Black salt is used in some skincare products, such as scrubs and masks, for its exfoliating and cleansing properties. It is believed to help remove dead skin cells and impurities, leaving the skin refreshed and rejuvenated.
It’s important to emphasize that while black salt may have some potential health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation like any other type of salt. Excessive salt intake, regardless of the type, can be detrimental to health and is associated with high blood pressure and other health issues.
Individuals with specific medical conditions, such as hypertension or kidney disease, should be cautious about their salt intake, including black salt. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes or using black salt for therapeutic purposes. Additionally, the perceived health benefits of black salt are largely based on traditional and anecdotal use, and more scientific research is needed to substantiate these claims.
Black Salt vs. Pink Salt: What’s The Difference?
Black salt and pink salt are two distinct types of salt, each with its own unique characteristics and culinary uses. The key differences between black salt and pink salt are their colour, flavour, sulfur content, and culinary applications.
Here is a quick look at the differences between black salt and pink salt:
Black Salt (Kala Namak):
- Colour: Black salt is not entirely black; it ranges from dark purple to blackish in colour. Its hue can vary based on its source and impurities.
- Flavour: Black salt has a distinctive sulfurous and pungent aroma, often described as having an “eggy” flavour. This makes it suitable for dishes where an eggy taste is desired.
- Culinary Uses: Black salt is commonly used in South Asian and Indian cuisine to add a unique flavour to various dishes. It is often used in vegan and vegetarian cooking to mimic the taste of eggs in recipes like tofu scrambles, vegan omelets, and chaat masala.
- Sulfur Content: Black salt contains trace minerals and sulfur compounds, which contribute to its distinct taste.
Himalayan Pink Salt:
- Colour: Himalayan pink salt is pale pink to deep red or orange in colour. It gets its colour from trace minerals, primarily iron.
- Flavour: Himalayan pink salt has a mild and subtle flavour with a hint of mineral complexity. It is less intense and less sulfurous in taste compared to black salt.
- Culinary Uses: Pink salt is used as a gourmet salt in various dishes and for seasoning food. It can be used in the same way as common table salt to enhance the overall flavour of a wide range of recipes. It is also commonly used in brines for pickling and curing.
- Sulfur Content: Pink salt also contains trace minerals and sulfur compounds, but contains much less sulfur For that reason, you will not notice a strong sulfur flavour from pink salt.
To sum things up, black salt is known for its strong and distinctive sulfurous taste, often used to add an eggy flavor to dishes, while pink salt is prized for its mild and versatile taste, primarily used as a gourmet salt for general seasoning. The choice between these two salts depends on the specific flavour profile you want to achieve in your cooking.