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A Salty Affair

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pretty to look at and supposedly healthy, Himalayan salt has already made its mark in our kitchens. Pearl Mathias brings you various ways to use this prehistoric pink crystal

Not your typical cook and serve, cooking on a block of Himalayan pink salt is an innovative way to sneak the mineral in your diet. Even if you have heard of its wonders, the thought of cooking on a salt block may seem foreign to you. But, it’s catching on for a good reason and we tell you why you must get on this bandwagon right away. But first, we tell you how to use this sunset-hued crystal, followed by the health benefits that are derived from quickly whipping up a dish on it. The salt also serves as a pretty addition to your kitchen tools and makes a great gifting option as well. So, we’re sure that it won’t be long before you’re sold on this appetising idea. Take a look.

BLOCK-BUSTER

This large, pink piece of salt is carved into rectangles, squares and circles, and it is even sold in brick shape. Swasti Aggarwal, food strategist at Foodhall, tells us about a few ways in which you can use this salt block in your kitchen.

  • To grill fresh vegetables and meat: Grilling fresh ingredients on the salt block enhances the flavour of the dish by seasoning it while you cook and keeping its natural flavour intact. Cooking on a high flame creates delicious flavours. The heat spreads evenly through the entire block instead of radiating out from the middle and cooling toward the edges. This ensures that the vegetables and meat prepared on the block will be perfectly cooked through.
     
  • To make cold salads: Salads can be kept fresh for longer if served on a block of Himalayan salt. Fresh Caprese salad, watermelon and crumbled feta, Greek salad or burrata served on the block keeps them fresh and enhances their flavour.
     
  • To make your one-dish meal healthier: Cooking on a pink salt block naturally imparts incredible amount of minerals to your food. It stabilises your body’s pH levels, improves digestion and reduces acid reflux among other things.
     
  • To extend the shelf life of food: If you wish to store raw food for a longer period of time, consider storing it on the salt block.
     
  • As the base for a cheese platter: Serving or presenting your final dish on a salt block adds an element of theatricality. Artfully arrange fresh mozzarella, slices of mature cheddar, goat cheese, crackers and even dried apricots to make your very own cheese platter.
     
  • As a fancy dessert platter: Create a sweet platter of chocolate tartlets, truffles, peanut brittles and brownies with a light drizzle of butterscotch sauce. Serve decadent sundaes like one with ice cream, chocolate sauce, caramelised banana and sprinkles. Scoop on homemade sorbets, gelatos or even rabdi with kulfi. Impart a unique flavour to your salsa, guacamole and hummus by serving it on a block of Himalayan salt.
     
  • To add a salty kick to fruit salads: Drizzle over some warm custard or butterscotch sauce to make desserts even better. Make quick and easy no-bake pies such as banoffee or cheesecake in the salt bowl for an interesting twist.

HEALTH QUOTIENT

The salt block not only has anti-bacterial properties, it also contains several essential minerals. The salt and minerals are absorbed by the food cooked on it, leaving them perfectly seasoned. Said to be the purest form of salt available, (apart from making your food tastier) here are a few ways in which Himalayan pink salt is healthy and why you should consider using it.

  • It promotes healthy sleep patterns.
  • It prevents muscle cramps and strengthens bones.
  • It increases hydration and lowers blood pressure.
  • It creates a stable pH within the cells.
  • It also reduces the signs of ageing and increases libido.

WHERE TO GET ONE

If you want to try cooking on or using a block of Himalayan pink salt, pick up your own from Foodhall in Palladium for Rs. 3,300.

CLEANING GUIDE

If you’re going to put this versatile block to use, you’ll have to make sure to clean it from time to time. But, when it comes to this crystal block, don’t rush to clean it soon after you’ve used it. Let it cool off for an hour after use or simply leave it overnight and take care of it the next day. Cleaning this salt block isn’t much of a task, but don’t put it in the dishwasher. Instead, follow these simple steps:

  • Rinse the salt block under running hot water in the sink. Be careful not to let it soak in the water.
  • After you remove it from the water, gently scrape off the residue with a sponge or metal spatula.
  • Rinse it once more under hot water to clean it properly.
  • Wipe it with a clean dish towel and set it on the counter to dry.
  • Make sure not to drop it while cleaning because unlike our steel and aluminium vessels, this salt block may crack into pieces or injure you.
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