We all know the magic of black salt, it lends an extra kick to chaat and a chatpata sprinkle over raita but did you know that it has many other special qualities to it that make it a common addition to Ayurvedic medicine? This unique rock salt is also known as kala namak, Indian black salt, and Sulemani namak and is most often found in the Himalayan mountains. Don’t be fooled though, it’s not the same thing as Himalayan salt and despite the name, it’s not even black! So with so much complexity to explore, let’s dive into the wonders and secrets of Black Salt.
Like all salt, the main chemical component of Black Salt is sodium chloride, but what sets it apart from your regular sea salt is the high concentration of sulfates, iron sulfide, magnesium, potassium, and other elements found in the rocky terrain of the Himalayan mountains. It’s the sulphur content that really sets this salt apart though as it creates an umami flavour that’s reminiscent of boiled eggs. It’s this property which makes it hugely popular for vegan cooking.
The Ayurvedic ties of black salt date back more than 2,000 years and it’s a well-respected addition to alternative medicine. Healers believe that black salt can help treat a wide variety of disorders including digestive issues, eye disease, dental issues and stress-related illnesses. But it isn’t just eastern medicine that holds these claims, even western studies have shown that the high concentration of antioxidants in black salt along with the low sodium content is a huge boon to health.
There are 3 types of black salt with Himalayan being the most commonly referred to version. The other two have different properties and are very different in their uses, origins and applications, here’s a quick breakdown to help clear up any confusion.
Himalayan Black Salt
Pinkish-brown in colour and the most commonly used variety of black salt, this is usually added to savoury dished and is used as a finishing salt rather than during the cooking process.
Black Lava Salt
Also known as Hawaiian black salt, it is made with a mixture of table salt and activated charcoal which gives it the black colour and a signature smoky flavour. It’s most commonly used in Hawaii and Cyprus and is used as a finishing salt.
Black Ritual Salt
This is definitely not an edible salt and is a mix of charcoal, ash and sea salt which is used to perform certain religious ceremonies in different cultures around the world.
So now you know the many benefits and origins of black salt, why don’t you go out and put it to the test in creating some stunning and unique dishes of your own?