Kala Namak (Black Salt): Everything you need to know

First time I cooked with Kala Namak I studied a lot about this special Black Salt. The Kala Namak or Black Salt gives the food a sulfurous taste. For vegans, the black salt is especially appreciated at the table and with cooking for its egg-like taste.

Kala Namak (black salt)

Kala Namak (Black Salt): Everything you need to know

Salt is an indispensable ingredient in the kitchen, but not every type of salt is the same. There are big differences between them, Kala Namak is such a salt that occupies a special place in the culinary field. It is a volcanic rock salt which is appreciated for its special taste and is often used in India in the preparation of all kinds of dishes and drinks. It is absolutely not comparable to the ordinary salt that we usually use in Western cuisine because of its unique taste.

What is Kala Namak?

Kala Namak is a special kind of “Himalayan rock salt”. An unrefined, volcanic rock salt (Halite) with a sulfur-like aroma, similar to the smell of hard-boiled eggs. This mineral mainly consists of sodium chloridem but also contains other trace minerals such as sulphur, hence the smell. This salt also owes its unique taste – a hint of bitterness – to the presence of Sulphur.

Despite the name “black salt”,  it is in the form in which it’s sold not black, but dark brown to gray / pink in color. This rock salt is extracted from very old underground deposits in India and Pakistan at the foot of the Himalayas. Kala Namak in its natural form is dark brown to black in color, only after the crystals have been ground the color changes to gray / pink.

Black Salt is pure and unrefined and therefore not chemically contaminated. It is extracted from ancient deposits that have not been exposed to air pollution, etc. Kala Namak is a natural product that contains essential trace minerals that are good for our health. The refined salt that we generally use in the West does not contain this. Because Kala Namak is a natural product, this salt can differ in color and composition.

Kala Namak is one of the purest forms of salt and is highly valued by enthusiasts (including many vegetarians and vegans) and often referred to as “The Salt of all salts”.

Where does Kala Namak come from?

Millions of years ago, a primordial sea was evaporated by the sun. This formed the basis for the Kala Namak, which is located in deep deposits in the Himalayas. This volcanic rock salt is extracted from mines at the foot of this largest mountain range on Earth. Black Salt is extracted (usually still manually) from mines in India, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the so-called “Salt Range” area. This area, which owes its name to the gigantic amounts of rock salt, stretches from the Jhelum River to the Indus, right through the northern part of the Punjab province in Pakistan.

The most famous mines are:

  • Khewra Salt Mines
  • Warcha salt Mines
  • Kalabagh Salt Mines
  • Jatta Salt Mines
  • Bahadur Khel & Karak Salt Mines

Kala Namak (black salt)

Usage of black lava salt

Black salt is used in many recipes but is also known for it’s health benefits, although these benefits aren’t all proven or researched. Currently there even isn’t strong enough research to suggest that black salt is healthier than regular table salt.

Culinary usage

Kala Namak is used in Indian cuisine for centuries, both in dishes and drinks and as table salt. The use of Kala Namak is also known and loved in Pakistan and other neighboring countries. Common usage icludes:

  • Chaat Masala, a spice mix of various spices such as cumin, coriander, red chili peppers, Kala Namak, pepper and dried ginger. Chaat Masala is used in the preparation of many Indian Chaats. Chaats are spicy salads of vegetables or fruits that are very popular in India.
  • Many traditional chutneys, a blend of fruits, vegetables and spices served with meals. Chutneys can be sweet and sour and mild, but also very spicy.
  • Countless Raitas. Raita is a refreshing, spicy (dip) sauce based on yogurt.
  • Various spicy drinks known in India, such as Aam Ka Panna and Jal Jeera.
  • Kala Namak is also often sprinkled over snacks and appetizers.
  • Vegan recipes such as vegan tofu scrambled eggs or vegan mayonaise, where the salt replaces the taste of eggs
Health benefits and medicinal usage

Black Salt is used already over a long time in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition to a general cleansing effect, various beneficial properties are attributed to the Black Salt, such as: cooling effect, laxative effect, promoting digestion, anti-inflammatory and disinfecting. In addition, it would also relieve respiratory ailments, intestinal gas problems and heartburn. Kala Namak is also often prescribed to patients with high blood pressure or on a low-salt diet. Unlike regular salt, it does not increase the sodium level in the blood. According to ancient scriptures, Kala Namak is even said to have aphrodisiac properties. All in all, no wonder that Kala Namak is found in more than 200 Ayurvedic medications.

Composition Kala Namak

Kala Namak is a special mineral, it mainly consists of sodium chloride, but also contains various “impurities” that are responsible for the typical taste, color and smell. These impurities consist of various sulfur compounds. The Sulfur – in particular the compound Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) – is responsible for the odor of (rotten) eggs that is so characteristic of this salt. At high concentrations, Hydrogen Sulfide would be toxic to humans, but the quantities in Kala Namak are so small that this is completely negligible.

The compound Iron Sulfide (FeS) is responsible for the dark color. The salty taste is caused by Sodium Chloride (NaCl). This type of salt cannot be compared with the kitchen salt we use because of its unique taste and smell, in addition, this salt is rich in iron.
As mentioned, Kala Namak is a natural product and the composition can differ.

Other names for Kala Namak are:
  • Black Salt
  • (Indian) Black Salt
  • Indian Mineral Salt
  • Sulfur Salt
  • Birae Nun
  • Sanchal
  • Indian Rock Salt
  • Bit Lobon
  • Sainthav
  • Nirav Black Salt
1 comment
  1. Jacqui

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this salt. I would love to begin using it, and would like a recommendation on which brand is best (there are many on the market).

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