Health with a pinch of salt
By Nmami Agarwal
Salt has always been an ingredient of paramount importance in the kitchen. It can either make or break a dish. Salts, either make flavors stand on pinnacle or suppress it entirely. They curb bitterness, enhance sweetness, sour and umami giving sweet and sour dishes a two-dimensional flavor. They release and accentuate aroma of dishes which is an integral part of taste. This is exactly why distinct salts are important to distinguish between dishes.
Salt just oomphs up the flavor, right? Any trip to gourmet spice aisle will tell a different story. Of course, irregular chunks, finely ground powder and an array of different color palettes of these, await. As shocking as this sounds, varieties of salts work best for different dishes.
- TABLE SALT: it is the most common kind of salt that is used and is easily available. It is highly refined and finely ground with no trace of impurities. Table salt is treated with an anti-caking agent which prevents it from clumping. As most table salts are iodized, it defends from thyroid gland issues which are caused due to iodine deficiency. Iodine has also proven to be essential for healthy brain development of children. But excessive consumption of table salt can cause fluctuation of excess fluid in the body tissues leasing to various health problems.
- HIMALAYAN PINK SALT: Himalayan pink salt is the purest form of salt harvested in Himalayan mountains of Pakistan. With its color ranging from off-white to deep pink, it contains 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body, especially iron. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions such as promoting blood sugar health & healthy pH in blood cells, reducing muscle cramps which makes it the healthiest salt for consumption. Its mineral content gives it a bolder which makes it useful as a cooking and finishing salt.
- KALA NAMAK A.K.A INDIAN BLACK SALT: Indian black salt is a Himalayan salt stocked up in a jar with various herbs, charcoal, seeds and tree bark. It is then, fired in a furnace for full twenty-four hours before it cools down, stored and aged. This process gives Kala namak it’s reddish-black color along with a pungent sulfurous aroma of eggs. It is often used in vegetarian and vegan dishes to provide a hint of egg’s flavor without actually adding it. Kala namak cures bloating and constipation, & heartburns and relieves muscle cramps and spasms.
- SMOKED SALT: This salt is slow-smoked for two weeks over wood fire, usually oak, hickory, apple or alder wood. As the name suggests, smoked salt adds an intense and smoky flavor to dishes. Depending on the duration of being smoked and the type of wood, the flavor of smoked salt differs from brand to brand. Smoked salt is ideal to use for flavoring meats and hearty vegetables like potatoes.
- KOSHER SALT: This salt is coarse, grainy and a flaky salt. It can easily replace table salt. Aside from texture and larger grains, the differences between table salt and kosher salt include the fact that kosher salt is not iodized and does not include anti-caking agents. Being coarser- grained, it’s perfect for sprinkling on top of meat while releasing a surprise blast of flavor. It produces a very mild flavor which is preferred by many cooks.
Although salt has earned a bad reputation due to its harmful effects, it has been extremely beneficial too. It all depends on the quantity and of course, the quality of salt too. So try out different salts with different dishes to reach the optimum level of health and taste.
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