Kashmir: Kashmiri Soda

Restaurant: Mumbai Chowk null
City: Newark, California

I had dinner with family friends at an Indian restaurant near home. There was a list of sodas on the wall, so one of us asked what “Kashmiri Soda” was. The waiter gave us one to try and guess what it was!

Here’s what it looked like. The waiter put some stuff into the mason jar, poured club soda in it, and mixed it before serving. We each poured out a little bit of the brownish soda in our empty water cups to try.

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As I brought my cup closer to my mouth, the smell became more pungent and foul! It made me want to put the drink down! The waiter just laughed at our reactions… Then after taking a sip while trying to hold my breath… I thought it wasn’t as bad, but it was still pretty nasty!

My sister knew right away what it was after a sip- sulfur. In college, she camped at a site known to contain sulfuric water, and said the smell is very distinct. On the contrary, I had not smelled it till now…and I will remember it forever! Some people may think sulfur smells similar to rotten eggs.

The waiter told us it’s a drink made from black salt (kala namak), with a hint of lime, and carbonated water (club soda). He also said they drink the soda to help digestion.

Here’s more info about black salt, from Wikipedia:

Kala Namak or Himalayan Black Salt (Urdu کالا نمک; Bengali Biit lobon (বিট লবণ); Newari Be Chi; Nepali Birae Nun (बिरे नुन) ; Hindi काला नमक Marathi काळं मीठ ;kālā namak; Gujarati સંચળ Sanchal; Tamil இந்துப்பு; Malayalam ഇന്തുപ്പ്) also known as sulemani namak, black salt, kala loon or black Indian salt, is a type of rock salt, salty and pungent-smelling condiment used in South Asia. The condiment is composed largely of sodium chloride with several impurities lending the salt its colour and smell. The smell is mainly due to its sulfur content. Due to the presence of Greigite (Fe3S4, Iron(II,III) sulfide) in the mineral, it forms brownish pink to dark violet translucent crystals when whole, and, when ground into a powder, it is light purple to pink in color.

Composition

Kala namak consists primarily of sodium chloride and trace impurities of sodium sulphate, sodium bisulfate, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulphide, iron sulfide and hydrogen sulfide. Sodium chloride provides kala namak with its salty taste, iron sulphide provides its dark violet hue, and all the sulphur compounds give kala namak its slight savory taste as well as a highly distinctive smell, with hydrogen sulphide being the most prominent contributor to the smell. The acidic bisulfates/bisulfites contribute a mildly sour taste. Although hydrogen sulphide is toxic in high concentrations, the amount present in kala namak used in food is small and thus its effects on health are negligible: Hydrogen sulphide is also one of the components of the odor of rotten eggs and boiled milk.

Uses

Kala Namak is used extensively in South Asian cuisines of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan as a condiment or added to chaats, chutneys, salads, all kinds of fruits, raitas and many other savory Indian snacks. Chaat masala, an Indian spice blend, is dependent upon black salt for its characteristic sulfurous hard-boiled egg aroma. Those who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as similar to rotten eggs. Kala Namak is appreciated by some vegans in dishes that mimic the taste of eggs. It is used, for example, to spice tofu to mimic an egg salad.

Kala Namak is considered a cooling spice in ayurvedic medicine and is used as a laxative and digestive aid. It is also believed to relieve intestinal gas and heartburn. It is used in Jammu to cure goiters. This salt is also used to treat hysteria, and for making toothpastes by combining it with other mineral and plant ingredients.

I don’t think I’d be getting this ever again. Have you tried this soda? If not, would you be willing to try it?! :D

 

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