Namak Swaad Anusar!

Salt is an intimate part of our lives. Our tears, blood and sweat are salty. At one point salt is...

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Namak swaadanusar

Salt is an indispensable part of our lives. Our tears, blood and sweat are salty. At one point salt is life giving in a saline drip in the hospital and on the other hand, the salty sea water is not potable for the marooned! If one really wants to understand the value of salt try having saltless food! Many would find it unpalatable. If there are no spices in food we can call it bland but if salt is omitted we are quick to retort that the cook forgot to put salt and straight away reach for the quintessential salt-shaker at the table. The taste of salt is so discerning.   

History: Satyagraha Movement

Trading in salt made the traders rich. Roman and Chinese rulers introduced taxes on salt or took over the trade for themselves 2,500 years ago. When countries wanted to go to war, they raised taxes on salt. The Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 is today worldwide acknowledged as the one event that shook the British Empire to its core. The Salt Satyagraha, Dandi March or the Satyagraha movement was a wage against the British by Mahatama Gandhi himself which started in 1930 and continued almost till 1931.

He witnessed the high taxes on salt were discarding poor and low income households from buying and consuming salt. He started the Dandi march with a dozen of followers from Sabarmati Aashram in Ahemdabad and protested till Dandi, Surat, a journey of around 240 miles where people from all over India raised their voice, joined the protest and broke laws to stop this cruelty of the british.

After a lot of tension and destruction, finally on April 5, 1931 Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed where the british had agreed to let the Indians produce salt for their domestic use and Mahatama Gandhi had won us 'namak' for India which is still one of the most important part of our lives.

Namak swaad anusaar:

And namak swaadanusar has been my punch line! In fact saltiness is one of the six senses of taste according to Ayurveda the others being sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. The role of salt is threefold: it seasons food, it preserves food and it provides sodium and chloride which are nutrients necessary to the body’s fluid balance and muscle and nerve activity.   

What is sea salt?

All of the world’s salt deposits are of marine origin. Seventy percent of the earth is water. But it is salted water which is not appropriate for the humans to consume but it is truly significant for the marine life.

Sea salt is obtained either naturally by sun and wind evaporation, or artificially from water evaporation pans. Fleur de sel ("Flower of salt" in French) is one of most expensive salts in the world and is very rare as it is said to form only when the wind blows from the east. It comes from Brittany in jars. 

Moderation of Salt is important:

Salt is undoubtedly the most common kitchen ingredient, but overconsumption of salt increases the risk of health problems. Always remember, salt is not added as a flavoring in its own right but as an enhancement to the overall flavour of the dish. We have coarse salt, fine salt, black salt, rock salt, monosodium glutamate, table salt and herb salts. In many East Asian cultures, salt is not traditionally used as a condiment. However, condiments such as soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce tend to have a high salt content and they play the same role as a salt-providing condiment that table salt serves in western cultures.

Adding salt to a preparation is important. More important is the timing. For example, since salt raises the boiling point of water it should be added after the boil to reduce cooking time. Salt in water in which you are boiling vegetables helps in enhancing their natural flavour. A pinch of salt to lightly beaten egg whites to prepare meringue makes it easier to whisk into stiff peaks. In sweet mixtures and some cakes and desserts, salt helps to develop flavour. Do not salt meats before cooking as the salt draws out all the flavoursome juices, but fish fillets will benefit from a bit of salt during refrigeration prior to cooking. Vegetables such as cucumbers and brinjals are often salted prior to preparation to draw out their bitter juices. Karela is always salted! But as salt has this property it is better not to salt salads way before serving time.