Black Salt (Kala Namak): A Volcanic Salt With A Sulfurous Note

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Black salt has been around for a long time. Also called kala namak, it was first documented by Maharishi Charak. Maharishi Charak lived around 300 BC and is often referred to as the father of Ayurvedic medicine.

Black salt starts out in the mountains of Pakistan, just like Himalayan pink salt. It is considered a volcanic salt but is the residue of salt from ancient oceans like other mined salts.

While it continues to be widely used in Indian cuisine, black salt is not well known in the west.

Black salt flavor profile

Black salt has an aroma that can be described as sulfurous. It is often likened to the smell of hard-boiled egg yolks. The flavor and aroma result in a salt that is best used in limited amounts. Like all salts used in food, black salt consists mostly of sodium chloride like table salt and other culinary salts. Along with the sodium chloride, black salt also contains hydrogen sulfide and iron sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide is responsible for the smell and the iron sulfide gives it its color; however, its flavor is largely that of plain salt because it is mostly sodium chloride. The aroma combined with its salty taste is good for giving a savory note to dishes.

It is important to note that the egg yolk smell and flavor of the salt will usually not be detectable in finished dishes except as an umami note.

Health benefits of black salt

Black salt has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for its therapeutic effects for centuries. It has a number of health-enhancing characteristics. such as:

  • It’s a good source of minerals: Black salt contains more of certain minerals than is provided by ordinary table salt. It contains more than three times the amount of potassium, and more than five times the amount of calcium when you compare it to table salt.
  • Low sodium: Black salt contains a lower percentage of sodium chloride when compared to other salts like table salt. That lower percentage means that it may be slightly more beneficial for health when compared table salt, which is closer to being 100 percent sodium chloride.

The beneficial compounds in black salt make it an effective treatment or preventive measure for health conditions like:

  • Digestive ailments: The high sulfur content makes it beneficial for treating heartburn and bloating. One of its uses in Ayurvedic medicine is as a treatment for indigestion. It can also be used to control vomiting.
  • Respiratory ailments: Black salt is used as a treatment for respiratory issues because it breaks up mucus and encourages the body to expel it.
  • High blood pressure: Because of its relatively low sodium chloride content, black salt may have less of an effect on blood pressure when compared to table salt.

Common uses of black salt

Its best-known use is in the Indian street food known as chaat masala but it is also used in chutneys and salads. In Ayurvedic medicine, black salt is used to make an herbal elixir called triphala. It is also combined with harad seed and it is used in a beverage called jal jeera.

Black salt can be used in western preparations as well and is known to enhance the flavor of popular snacks like popcorn. Its sulfurous flavor notes can help to make tofu taste more like eggs.

Despite its name, black salt’s color ranges between pink and brown once it is ground. Its color allows it to create a somewhat dramatic visual effect when used as a finishing salt.