Kala namak

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Black Salt
Black Salt (crystals).jpg
Large pieces of kala namak salt
Alternative namesKala Namak
Region or stateSouth Asia Himalayan regions

Kala namak is a kiln-fired rock salt with a sulphurous, pungent smell used in the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as "Himalayan black salt", Sulemani namak, bire noon, bit loona, bit lobon, kala loon, guma loon, or pada loon, and is manufactured from the salts mined in the regions surrounding the Himalayas.

The condiment is composed largely of sodium chloride with several other components lending the salt its colour and smell. The smell is mainly due to its sulfur content. Because of the presence of Greigite (Fe3S4, Iron(II,III) sulfide) in the mineral, it forms brownish pink to dark violet translucent crystals when whole. When ground into a powder, its color ranges from purple to pink.

Kala namak has been praised in Ayurveda and used for its perceived medical qualities.[1][2]

Production[edit]

The raw material for producing Kala Namak was originally obtained from natural halite from mines in Northern India and Pakistan in certain locations of the Himalayas salt ranges,[3][4] (Khewra Salt Mine/Punjab, Pakistan) or from salt harvested from the North Indian salt lakes of Sambhar or Didwana.[5]

Traditionally, the salt was transformed from its relatively colourless raw natural forms into the dark coloured commercially sold kala namak through a reductive chemical process that transforms some of the naturally occurring sodium sulfate of the raw salt into pungent hydrogen sulfide and sodium sulfide.[6] This involves firing the raw salts in a kiln or furnace for 24 hours while sealed in a ceramic jar with charcoal along with small quantities of harad seeds, amla, bahera, babul bark, or natron.[5][6] The fired salt melts, the chemical reaction occurs, and the salt is then cooled, stored, and aged prior to sale.[7][3] Kala namak is prepared in this manner in northern India with production concentrated in Hisar district, Haryana.[6] The salt crystals appear black and are usually ground to a fine powder that is purple.

Although the Kala Namak may have traditionally been chemically produced from impure deposits of salt (sodium chloride) with the required chemicals (small quantities of sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate and ferric sulfate) and charcoal in a furnace it is now common to simply add the required chemicals to pure salt before firing. Reportedly, it is also possible to create similar products through reductive heat treatment of salt, 5–10% of sodium carbonate, sodium sulfate, and some sugar.[6]

Composition[edit]

Kala namak consists primarily of sodium chloride and trace impurities of sodium sulfate,[8][9] sodium bisulfate, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfide, iron sulfide and hydrogen sulfide.

Sodium chloride provides kala namak with its salty taste, iron sulfide provides its dark violet hue, and all the sulfur compounds give kala namak its slight savory taste as well as a highly distinctive smell, with hydrogen sulfide being the most prominent contributor to the smell. The acidic bisulfates/bisulfites contribute a mildly sour taste.[4] Although hydrogen sulfide is toxic in high concentrations, the amount present in kala namak used in food is small and thus its effects on health are negligible.[4] Hydrogen sulfide is also one of the components (in trace amounts) of the odor of cooked eggs and cooked, pasteurized, or homogenized milk: its odor is amplified to unpleasant levels in rotten eggs.[10]

Uses[edit]

Powdered kala namak

Kala namak is used extensively in South Asian cuisines of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal as a condiment or added to chaats, chutneys, salads, fruit, raitas and many other savory Indian snacks. Chaat masala, an Indian spice blend, is dependent upon black salt for its characteristic sulfurous egg-like aroma. Those who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as resembling flatulence.[1] Black salt is sometimes used sparingly as a topping for fruits or snacks in Pakistan.

A person thinks it makes vegetarian tofu taste more like eggs.[11]

Kala namak is considered a cooling spice in Ayurveda and is used as a laxative and digestive aid.[3][8][9][12] It is also believed[by whom?] to relieve flatulence and heartburn. It is used in Jamu to cure goitres.[12] This salt is also used to treat hysteria and for making toothpastes by combining it with other mineral and plant ingredients.[3] The uses for goitre and hysteria are dubious. Goitre, due to dietary iodine deficiency, would not be remedied unless iodide was present in the natural salt. The very broad term "Hysteria" is now replaced in the DSM with more specific terms such as conversion or histrionic disorders. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warned a manufacturer of dietary supplements, including one consisting of Himalayan salt, to discontinue marketing the products using unproven claims of health benefits.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Moorjani, Lachu (2005), Ajanta: Regional feast of India, Gibbs Smith, p. 22, ISBN 978-1-58685-777-6
  2. ^ Case, Frances (6 June 2008), 1001 Foods You Must Eat Before You Die, Cassell Illustrated, ISBN 978-1-84403-612-7
  3. ^ a b c d Bitterman, Mark (2010), Salted:A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, Random House of Canada, pp. 166–167
  4. ^ a b c Vorkommen von Schwefelwasserstoff in "Schwarzsalz" (PDF), Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR), 25 August 2003
  5. ^ a b Chandrashekhar, D (22 February 1977), Maqsood Mohammad vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh And Anr. on 22 February 1977, Allahabad High Court
  6. ^ a b c d Chandra, S (18 February 1970), Commissioner, Sales Tax vs Balwant Singh Jag Roshan Lal on 18 February 1970, Allahabad High Court
  7. ^ Sher Ali Tiwana (5 December 2016), How black salt is made on big scale, retrieved 12 February 2019
  8. ^ a b Ali, Z. A. (August 1999), "Folk veterinary medicine in Moradabad District (Uttar Pradesh), India", Fitoterapia, 70 (4): 340–347, doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(99)00039-8
  9. ^ a b Sadhale, Nalini; Nene, Y L (2004), "On Elephants in Manasollasa – 2. Diseases and Treatment", Asian Agri-History, 8 (2): 115–127
  10. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking (2nd ed.). Scribners. pp. 87-88 (eggs), 20, 22 (milk). ISBN 978-0684800011.
  11. ^ Aujla, Rupy. "Tofu scramble recipe". BBC Food. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  12. ^ a b Aggarwal, Hemla; Kotwal, Nidhi (2009), "Foods Used as Ethno-medicine in Jammu", Studies on Ethno-Medicine, 3 (1): 65–68, doi:10.1080/09735070.2009.11886340, S2CID 56232276
  13. ^ "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations Herbs of Light, Inc". Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 18 June 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2018.