Have you heard of black salt before? Maybe you came across this curious ingredient while browsing Indian recipes or while searching for the perfect tofu scramble. When it comes to recreating your favorite egg-based dishes, there’s one obscure little ingredient that you don’t want to miss: black salt. Black salt is actually more purple than black, but let’s not waste time on semantics and get right into why it is a must-have. If you want to give your tofu scrambles, quiches, and even egg-free hollandaise sauce that authentic, eggy flavor, you just can’t get closer than using black salt.
What is Black Salt?
If you look up black salt, it’s likely that you will learn that there are a few different types out there. There is black ritual salt, which is not edible. This type of salt has been used in European folk religions and Wicca rituals as a way to drive away negative energy. The second type is black lava salt, which is salt from Hawaii or Cyprus that has been blended with activated charcoal. This kind of salt is typically used as a finishing touch in recipes.
The third type, which is the salt that we’re going to talk about, is kala namak, which is colloquially referred to as Himalayan black salt or Indian black salt. Black salt is commonly harvested from natural halite (also known as sodium chloride) in salt mines of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan or from certain areas of the Himalayan salt ranges. It can also be harvested from North Indian salt lakes as well as salt lakes in Nepal.
Ground black salt is actually not black at all, but rather, its color ranges from purple to a dark, brown-ish pink. It has a strong, pungent odor and flavor reminiscent of sulphur that makes it perfect for adding eggy flavor to egg-free dishes. Traditionally, black salt obtained its eggy flavor from a natural process of sealing the raw salt in a ceramic jar with charcoal and sometimes small quantities of Indian spices and herbs. It is then cooled, stored, and aged prior to sale.
The other method of making black salt is by taking ordinary salt and combining it with sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, and ferric sulfate and then chemically reducing it with charcoal in a furnace. This is how most commercially sold black salts are made.
Health Benefits of Black Salt
Traditionally made black salt has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is considered a cooling spice, or spices that are recommended during warmer months. Black salt has been used to treat a number of symptoms related to digestion, such as constipation, indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and flatulence. It has also been used to increase poor appetites and to treat goiter, poor eyesight, and hysteria.
It has been said that black salt is recommended for those who are following no-salt or low-sodium diets, however, because most commercially sold black salt is made with regular salt combined with sulfates, it is best for anyone avoiding salt to also avoid black salt.
Black salt has been used as a condiment in Indian cooking for hundreds of years, particularly with chutney, yogurt, pickles, salads, and fruits. Black salt is also a key ingredient in chaat masala, which is used as a condiment for dishes like fruit salads and some savory dishes. This Spicy Fruit Chaat doesn’t use chaat masala, but the zesty lime dressing includes a pinch of black salt. Try it adding a sprinkle to this Simple Basil Citrus Salad With Balsamic Jam Dressing or this Breakfast Quinoa Fruit Salad to add a savory, umami flavor.
Add a pinch of black salt to this Roasted Beet and Ginger Chutney, this Garlic Chutney, and this Curried Apple Walnut Chutney. You can also swap the sea salt mint chutney from this Golden Samosa Soup With Mint Chutney with just a pinch of black salt. Try replacing the regular salt with black salt in this Indian Green Apple Pickle or this Indian Radish Pickle for authentic flavor. For yogurt, like this Homemade Coconut Greek Yogurt just add a little sprinkle.
When adding black salt to recipes above, be sure to add only a small amount — a little goes a long way!
In the realm of plant-based cooking, black salt has become famous for its ability to add eggy flavor to egg-free dishes. If you’re completely new to black salt, start with tofu scramble, one of the easiest dishes you can make. Try adding a pinch to this Jamaican Tofu Scramble, this Tofu Huevos Rancheros, and these Sweet Potato and Tofu Scramble Mega Breakfast Burritos. Or, make this Antipasto Scrambled Tofu or this Tofu Scramble-Stuffed Avocado, which both include black salt in the recipe.
If you’re ready for something more advanced, try making a vegan omelet! Try this Chickpea Flour Omelet, this Low-Fat Silken Tofu Omelet, this White Bean and Oat Omelet, or this Spanish Omelet and just add a little touch of black salt to give it that eggy flavor.
Black salt is the perfect addition to quiches and frittatas, like this Cheesy Leek Quiche, this Chickpea and Kale Quiche, this Chickpea Flour Quiche, or this soy-free Baked Spinach and Herb Frittata. It also adds eggy flavor to these Omelet Muffins, which are essentially like a mini souffle.
But that’s not all we can add black salt to! It is what makes recipes like these Deviled Veggs, this Sunny Side Up Fried ‘Egg’, these Ultimate Vegan ‘Eggs’, this Sunny Side Up ‘Egg’ on Toast, and this Polenta ‘Egg’ and Soldiers taste so eggy.
You can also add a pinch to vegan hollandaise sauce — and there are so many ways you can make that! In this Tofu Benedict Florentine With Hollandaise, it is made with a base of vegan butter and vegan crème Fraiche. In this Asparagus Tofu Tartines With Light Hollandaise Sauce, it’s made from vegan butter, chickpea flour, and Dijon mustard. In this Tofu Benedict With Mushroom Bacon, the unique hollandaise is made with sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast. Finally, in this Tofu Benedict With Avocado Hollandaise, it’s made from avocado and mustard — add a pinch of black salt to make it eggy, like the others.
Because black salt is still somewhat unheard of in the West outside the world of vegan cooking, it can be difficult to track down. Certain Whole Foods and specialty stores that carry a lot of vegan products might carry it. You will most likely find it in your local Indian grocery store. Otherwise, you can order it online.
This Rani Black Salt is finely ground and includes no additives like anti-clumping or caking agents. One 5-ounce bottle costs $9.89. This Coarse Kala Namak India Black Salt by The Spice Lab is perfect for those who prefer to grind their own salt as they use it. One 4-ounce bottle is $12.95. Or, if you want to buy in bulk so you don’t have to worry about running out, try this Pride Of India Himalayan Black Salt. You can pick up this half-pound bag for $9.50.
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