What is black salt?
Black salt (also referred to as rock salt, kala namak or saindhav) is a type of salt mined in India. The crystals are obtained from salt mines around the foothills of the Himalayas as well as Pakistan and Nepal. Although it is called black, the colour of the crystals ranges from amber to dark brown to black, and when ground, the salt has greyish tones.
What is activated charcoal sea salt?
Another type of black salt is activated charcoal sea salt. Unlike Himalyan black salt, this is created by blending sea salt with activated charcoal. The salt is also known as Hawaiian black lava salt and was traditionally made with sea salt harvested from the Pacific Ocean (hence the name), however, now any sea salt is used.
These shiny black crystals have a strong mineral flavour and can be used as they come, or ground down in a mill to create finer flakes. Keeping in the Hawaiian theme, try sprinkling over pineapple, or use to stud pretzels and bagels.
What is black salt used for?
Compared to sea salt - and even Himalayan salt - black salt has a pungent sulphurous flavour profile, making it perfect for enhancing the likes of paneer, spiced lamb cutlets and aloo gobi. These distinct flavours mean it’s best used for sprinkling over dishes, but for seasoning throughout cooking, pink salt and sea salt are preferable.
What is the difference between black salt and pink salt?
Pink (Himalayan) salt is extracted from mines in the foothills of the Himalayas. To produce black salt, traditionally pink salt is heated to high temperatures before being mixed with Indian spices and seeds to produce the distinct flavour. This process is now done synthetically and charcoal is added to enhance the colour. The addition of spices means it’s a popular salt to use in Southeast Asian cooking.
So, black salt and pink salt are both the same salt crystals, it’s the manufacturing process which changes them.
In Indian cookery, black salt is a key ingredient in chat masala, the spice mixture used to flavour appetizers, salads and street food snacks. Try sprinkling this striking salt over mushroom risottos to enhance the earthy flavours.
Himalayan pink salt crystals are shaped like tiny pebbles and have a rosy hue. Use a pestle and mortar or grinder to crush the crystals, then use as a delicate seasoning for white fish or sprinkle over caramel ice cream.
Is black salt bad for you?
Culinary black salt is not bad for you. Like any salt variety, it’s best used in moderation, but everything that is added to Himalayan salt to make it black is safe to consume. Try using black salt in our amchur chutney recipe (it has the perfect balance of hot-sweet-sour-spice flavours), and use activated charcoal sea salt as garnish to these Guinness and black salt caramels.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.