Salt of The Earth

If you’re anything like me you probably spend a lot of time getting just the right ingredients together for a favourite dish. I love the freshest spices, the most flavorful vegetables, and the tastiest cuts of meat or poultry. In the past, though, when I came the part in the recipe where it said “Season to taste”, I just reached into the cupboard and brought out my standard sodium chloride or, as it’s commonly known, table salt. Not anymore. Why ruin a wonderful creation lovingly prepared, with an industrial product, which does nothing for the flavor, or one might almost say, the soul of the dish?

Salt is an essential part of our diet, but too much of it can cause a variety of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, and inflammation. So use salt in moderation, which is why choosing rock salt over table salt is a wise choice. Not only are you getting a product which is natural and doesn’t have additives and chemicals, it also has more taste and so a little goes a long way. Even more important, most rock salts contain a variety of trace minerals which table salt doesn’t. These include potassium, which balances some of the less healthy effects of sodium and can also reduce blood pressure. Another is magnesium, which helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases, relaxes muscles, promotes restful sleep, and enhances positive mood.

If you choose Kala Namak rock salt, which means black salt in Hindi, you will have an additional mineral benefit – suphur – which can help fight fatigue and stress, and reduce pain and inflammation. It has quite a pungent smell, and marries well with the spicy food of South-East Asia. Although it’s called Black Salt, it isn’t actually black but a delicate pink when ground into a powder. It comes from the Himalaya mountains, one of the least polluted parts of our planet.  Much of the Himalayan salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Punjab Region of Pakistan. It is Pakistan’s largest and oldest salt mine, and has been known about since the time of Alexander the Great. It produces exceptionally pure salt with over 80 trace minerals in it.

So if you cook for not only pleasure but also for health, you may want to experiment with these exquisite rock salts. You may find you use less of them, as they have more taste, which can do you nothing but good. If you want to cut down on your salt intake, avoid processed foods, as they are usually heavily salted, and seek out spicy alternatives to salt such as ginger, pepper, thyme, turmeric, basil, and mint. And finally, if you find you have over salted a dish such a curry or casserole, then take two large peeled potatoes, slip them into the gravy and cook them for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should absorb the excess salt and can then be thrown away.

You can buy both Black Salt and Khewra Salt from either of the Tropical Spice Garden’s two shops in Penang or online.

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