Over the past 2 years of being vegan, and learning more about cooking without all my old crutches, I’ve discovered some really interesting ingredients that I didn’t know about, since I didn’t really need them. Sometimes, trying to describe these things to friends can be a little difficult without some background. I thought a nice addition to the blog would be to occasionally write about some of these ingredients and how to use them.
The first entry in this series deals with Indian Black Salt (Kala Namak.)
I first encountered this salt when surfing some recipe blogs and reading about tofu egg salad, fritatas, etc. The salt was described as having a very strong odor that smells alot like eggs. I ordered The Spice Lab’s Himalayan Black Crystal Salt from Amazon, and was really surprised, when I opened it, it smelled exactly like hard boiled eggs.
As you can read about in the Wikipedia entry, the salt smells very eggy because of its high sulfur content. The raw salt contains sodium sulphate which is chemically transformed into hydrogen sulfide and sodium sulfide. Normally, these are compouds you wouldn’t want to eat (or breathe) but the quantity in the salt is too tiny to worry about. These are the same chemicals which make boiled eggs stinky the next day when you open them for breakfast at the office, and make your co-workers think you just passed gas.
As you can imagine, this is a very useful ingredient. One of the things I used to love before I went vegan was egg salad sandwiches. Using tofu, Vegenaise, mustard and black salt, I was able to create “egg salad” that a couple of guys at work agreed was hard to differentiate from the “real thing.”
I’ve also used the black salt in other recipes that benefit from a little egg flavor, including fried rice, and fresh pasta. I use it in my vegan cornbread to replace the normal salt. I’ve also made Chaat Masala which is an interesting Indian spice blend that has tons of uses (more on the Indian cooking later!)