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The Complete Guide to Black Salt: Origins, Composition, Flavour and Uses

The Complete Guide to Black Salt: Origins, Composition, Flavour and Uses

Posted by The Salt Box on 25th Jan 2018

Gourmet salts are incredible ingredients. They can turn any ordinary dish into a complex taste sensation, or the most plain-looking meal into extraordinary visual feast. Gone are the days where a shaker of iodised table salt was the go-to for seasoning; there’s a whole salty world out there to explore. And one of the most alluring characters you should consider getting to know a little better is black salt.

Looking for something completely unique to use in the kitchen? Few ingredients are as bold and dramatic as black salts. 

Black salts are one of the most unique gourmet salts on the market, sourced from different corners of the earth, and each with their own distinct characteristics. Their bold flavours and dramatic colours make them perfect use as finishing salts, drink rimmers, and on food with contrasting colours. We call them our Black Wonders, and there are three types to try: Cyprus Black Flake, Hawaiian Black Lava and Indian Black. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from these intriguing salts.

Indian Black Salt - Kala Namak

Of all the world’s black salts, Indian Black is the most revered. Also known to as Kala namak, its name is actually a little deceiving: made from crushed Indian volcanic rock salt, it isn’t black but rather a lovely pinkish brown colour.

Origins

Indian black salt has been used for hundreds of years in Asian countries surrounding the Himalayan mountains, such as India, Nepal and Pakistan. In antiquity, it was harvested from either volcanic mines in Northern India and Pakistan, or the salt lakes surrounding Sambhar and Didwana in Rajasthan. Although originating from a similar part of the world, it is distinctly different from Himalayan pink salt, both in colour and flavour.

Composition and Flavour

Kala namak is a complex compound packed with a range of minerals. Like other salts, it is mainly composed of sodium chloride, but you’ll also find traces of iron sulfide, which provides its pinkish hue, sulfur compounds, which impart a distinct savoury flavour that is reminiscent of eggs, and acidic bisulfates and bisulfites that contribute a mildly sour taste.

Don’t let these unique flavours deter you. While Indian black salt may smell a little odd, this dissipates very quickly once in food, and what it lacks in smell it certainly makes up for in taste. It is bold and distinct on the palate, and by no means ordinary.

Uses

Kala namak is widely used in Southern Asian cuisine, such as those from Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan. It is a central ingredient in chaats, chutneys, raitas and many other savory Indian foods. Because of its rich mineral taste, it is excellent as a condiment too, particularly good in salads and on fruit.

It is also popular with vegans who are looking to bolster a meal with the flavour of eggs, but cannot eat the real thing. Try it on tofu, roast veggies, sandwiches or just about any other vegan dish!

Cyprus Black Flake Salt

Where Indian black salt is a little misleading, Cyprus black flake salt most definitely lives up to its name. Harvested from the Mediterranean Sea off the Cypriot coast, it is unique and exotic, with large black pyramid-shaped flakes that give it loads of crunch.

Origins and Composition

Cyprus black flake salt is a combination of sea salt harvested from the Mediterranean (originally off the island, Cyprus) and carbon, which is obtained from naturally processed charcoal from softwoods such as linden, birch and willow.

Aside from its seductive black colour, Cyprus black flake salt is revered for its dazzling pyramid shape and light, crunchy texture. This is a result of the way it is harvested, a process of solar evaporation where Mediterranean Sea water is channeled into lagoons, then into pans where it is naturally heated by the sun, drawing out the water and leaving behind perfect crystals of salt. These are then mixed with activated charcoal, which is lauded for its detoxifying properties, along with a slew of other health benefits.

Flavour and Uses

The large, pyramid-shaped flakes make it perfect as a finishing salt. Their size makes it a powerful addition to any meal; it is exceptional on meats, sashimi, roast veggies, or as a seasoning for homemade bread or pretzels. The distinct, earthy flavour makes it a perfect addition to a caprese salad, frittata, or fresh veggies like tomatoes or cucumber, and over fruit.

It is also fantastic as a garnish: sprinkle it around the edge of a white plate at a dinner party, or coat the rim of a cocktail glass (you’ll never know what your bloody mary or margarita did without it).

Hawaiian Black Lava Salt

Another bold black wonder, Hawaiian black lava salt is a delectable Pacific Ocean sea salt that has been imbued with rich black charcoal. Much like Cyprus black flake salt, it is unique and glamorous, and is a perfect addition to the pantry of any adventurous chef.

Origins and Composition

Hawaiian black flake salt is a combination of sea salt harvested from the Pacific Ocean surrounding the remote Hawaiian islands and activated charcoal derived from coconut shells. This gives it its distinct black colour. Salt harvested from the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean using traditional solar evaporation techniques has a light, crunchy texture.

Flavour and Uses

The delicate texture and alluring colour of black lava salt make it perfect for use as a finishing salt. The coconut shell charcoal also imparts a subtle earthy flavour, which can add an interesting dimension to fish and meats. It is at its best when paired with pork, fish, eggplant, potatoes, sashimi, scallops, fruit, kale, buttered popcorn and avocado. Or, like its Cypriot sister, it is right at home on the rim of your favourite cocktail.

Our range of black salts are really quite sensational and are a must have in any kitchen. With so many unique properties to explore, they really open up a whole new realm of culinary creativity. Take a look at our range of Black Wonders here.