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Black is the new pink

I just love Indian food, I mean who doesn't? So many exotic flavors made with an array of unique spices and herbs. One particular spice that stands out is Indian black salt, also known as kala namak.

Kala namak comes from indigenous volcanic mineral obtained from volcanic mines in Northern India, and Pakistan and in certain locations of the Himalayan salt regions.

In its pure rock form, kala namak appears a dark, brownish pink color due to its high level of sodium chloride along with several other impurities. But when it is ground into a fine powder the salt morphs into a light purplish, pink color, which gives Indian black salt its famed contradictory name. One of the distinct characteristics of kala namak is the sulfuric smell it emits similar to hard-boiled eggs, because of its sulfur content.

Kala namak has been used for centuries in Indian cuisine as a cooking and finishing salt, or as a condiment added to chaats, chutneys, fruits, raitas and many other Indian snacks. In some vegan circles, kala namak is used to add an eggy taste to certain tofu dishes or for making vegan egg salad.

Not only does kala namak bring something extraordinary to Indian cuisine, it also works great with chicken, pork and beef dishes; and combines well with other spices like cumin, ginger, coriander and chili powder. A minute amount of kala namak can add contrast to sweets, especially for making salty caramel sauces. I think it works brilliantly by adding it to fruit drinks. Think limeade or lemonade? Perhaps, the next time you have a hankering for popcorn try sprinkling a little kala namak on top you will probably never go back to just simple salt and buttered popcorn again.

When storing kala namak, remember to use airtight containers and store away from heat and moisture. Also, due to its strong flavor, don't use it as you would common salt, use it sparingly or the sulfur taste will be too overwhelming.

I would like to share this simple Tandoori recipe using Indian black salt.

Vegetarian Tandoori Yams