Namak shamak!

They say no matter how busy we are, we always find time to do the things we love. So here I am with another blog post so I can interact and communicate with all my readers. Off late, I have been getting a lot of queries on Twitter and Facebook about black salt or kala namak. Hopefully this post should answer all those queries about this beautiful native Indian ingredient.

Also known as sulemani namak, black salt, kalo noon or black Indian salt, is a salty and pungent-smelling condiment used in South Asia. 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 (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. Black salt is also made by mixing salt water with harad seeds. The mixture is left to evaporate leaving behind black lumps of salt. When the salt is ground, the resulting powder is pink.

Kala namak 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. Black salt is also a base ingredient in chaat masala and gives it its distinctive flavor. Those who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as similar to rotten eggs. It is an ideal flavouring ingredient for vegan food, because it imparts the food with a slight eggy smell and flavor without the actual use of eggs.

Kala namak is considered as 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. It is sometimes used by people with high blood pressure or on low-salt diets because it is thought to be lower in sodium and purportedly does not increase sodium content in the blood. This is used as a stool softener and is a remedy for constipation. Hypertensive patients are also advised to use black salt instead of common salt.

We use black salt to season a lot of dishes in Indian cuisine. Using black salt in many recipes is what adds that extra dimension of flavor to it. Take nimbu paani for example – adding a pinch of black salt to it, is what rounds out the flavor profile, perfectly balancing the sweet, sour and salty taste. I’m sharing some recipes which can be made using black salt. I’m also looking forward for all of you to share your interesting home recipes or anecdotes about this magical ingredient – black salt.

Dahi Wada
Nimbu Adrak Pani
Paani Puri ke teen pani

Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s