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Black salt

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Last time I went on a spice run to Jackson Hts I picked up some black salt. Not sure what to do with it. Is it really salt? What's the usual way to use it?

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  1. Interesting question! Black salt is new to me, too. Here's what I found out. It's an Indian spice. Its Indian name is either kala namak or sanchal. It is a strong-smelling rock salt that adds a "very unusual flavor totally different than its aroma". It's used in snacks and pickles. It is actually pink, or purplish-brown. You can buy it at www.spicesgalore1.com, four ounces for $1.60.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cats

      One use for black salt (kala namak) is on chaat basically the indian version of fruit salad usually in combination with a number of other spices including regular salt, chilipepper, lime juice

      1. re: zim

        Thanks for info.

        Thing is, I have it already, so last night I put it in a yogurt dressing (with cumin, garlic, coriander powder, etc.) for a chaat that also had spicy dry-cooked potatoes, asofetida papadum cracked up, chickpeas, tamarind chutney, green coriander pickle, cubes of cucumber, and sev.

        The black salt is really hard and comes in large chunks, like quartz, so I grated it with a microplane, and it smelled sulphuric. I can't put my finger on the taste, but it was sort of like "rotten" salt, with a little sour flavor. Can't think what else to do with it. It was pricey, for Jackson Hts, so I suspect it's valued for something.

    2. I've been enamoured by the "idea" of black salt for a long time, until I recently tasted it... It has been called for in several Indian dishes I've wanted to prepare, so when I was finally in the right place at the right time, I bought this precious dust, and all I can say is BLECK!!! Mixed it with yogurt and sugar as per the recipe, and not only did it smell like a rotten egg, I couldn't get past the smell to appreciate the taste - which I might add was somewhat stomach curdling... I don't get it, but would love to hear from someone who does... Oh yeah... and if you're from Toronto, don't get it at House of Spice... Go to Sunny Market... for less than you'll pay for a tiny amount at HOS, you can get a large pouch of it from Sunny Market...

      1. One common use for black salt is in Jal-jeera, a spiced cool drink from Northern India. Some of my Punjabi friends make this in the Summertime & is quite refreshing. I was able to google recipes but can't say which one is best (in addition to cumin & black salt, I feel amchur (mango powder) would be a key ingredient as well).


        1. A shop near me sells it. I had one grain of it, it didn't taste too bad. I thought it would look really pretty on salted caramels. (The contrast)

          1. It's used in very tiny qualities in chaats and is an addition to any good chaat masala mix. It is known to be good for digestion, and is added to salty lassis and jal-zeera along with other ingredients like cumin and mint. The smell is sulfuric, and it may taste sulfuric if one eats a pinch of it on its own, but it isn't meant to be consumed that way. It is also sprinkled on fruit and soft-boiled eggs along with chile, cumin, and dried mango powder (the basic ingredients of chaat masala). Fresh in-season fruit doesn't need any doctoring, but any fruit that is a little over ripe can be revamped with a sprinkle of this mixture.

            1. I'm not saying all do, but I think that many non-Indians have a strong negative reaction to kala namak. When you get fruit juice or cut fruit off the street in North India, it nearly always comes with some kala namak and I know some foreigners really hate that because they don't expect it...well, not the first time anyway!

              Having said this, I still think that people who have tried it and disliked it once should give it another go.

              As luckyfatima said, when mixed with cumin (I prefer roasted), chilli powder and amchoor you have a basic chaat masala. This can be used in chaat dishes, obviously, but also to pep up pretty much any snack-type food. Sprinkle it on after cooking. I like it on thinly sliced onions, in "salads" of chickpeas, potato, tomato, etc, on fruit, mixed into puffed rice based snacks, and also in drinks. It's great with anything yoghurty, and also on good fresh slices of paneer. It's amazing sprinkled on paneer pakora too! Another great use for it is sprinkling it on aam papad...the black one that is more sour, not the sweet orange one. Mmmmm....

              I don't know if it's true of all parts of North India, but in UP it seems common to offer kala namak alongside yoghurt if the yoghurt is plain and not raita. Each diner can then add it to taste. Kala namak on the table alongside (or replacing) salt and pepper is not uncommon in restaurants in North India, in my experience.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Muchlove

                Very interesting about the kala namak side with yoghurt. My mother in law is from Lucknow and father in law is from a Delhi and Dehradoon family, (though they are Pakistan nationals) and my MIL loves to talk food, so I will ask her about this practice.

                1. re: luckyfatima

                  Interesting-with all the Indian stores and restaurants we have here this product has yet to pop up-or at least it's not being called Black Salt.

                  What I do see is Hawaiian Black Salt especially in Sushi Bars.


                  1. re: Sam Salmon

                    I'm pretty sure I bought my kala namak in Vancouver's Gourmet Warehouse. I'd look for it in the Indian shops under that name.

                    I love a pinch of it in scrambled eggs - amps up the egg's natural sulperiness but not to rotten-egg levels. Wonderful on all sorts of vegetable too, esp. tomato.

                    I'll have to try it in salted lassi - that must be why mine made at home never taste quite right

                    It's delicious for salting cashews and other nuts. The Indian sweet shops in Vancouver sell a spiced cashew that's pungent with sufpher - not sure if they use kala namak or asatoefida (sp?) in it but it's very more-ish.

              2. Also note... if you're interested in buying black salt, you should NOT have to pay an arm and a leg for it... A good Asian type supermarket that carries it won't charge more than a couple of dollars (probably less) for a generous amount... I bought a tiny amount at a spice boutique BEFORE I knew that my favourite Asian supermarket sold it, and they totally gouged me.... over double the price. NOT that I ended up liking black salt, but just letting you know that it shouldn't cost a lot.