After learning my iron and B12 levels are on the low side, I’ve had to make sure that, while hardheaded, I am not a lazy vegan. Or overly busy vegan. Or poorly organized vegan. In short, I’m watching my nutrient intakes to make sure they’re high enough to keep me healthy. Which, honestly, is a smart practice whatever your dietary and lifestyle choice.
Since returning to a 9-5 job in fall of 2013, breakfasts have gone from lovingly prepared healthfests starring veggies galore, and have returned to their former glory: a quick grab of whatever my hand lands on in the fridge, bar the fuzzy stuff.
This morning, I skipped the rush and went for a meal that offered calcium, protein, iron, B12, fresh greens, yumminess, and a touch of old-style breakfast flavour.
Which brings me to kala namak.
My kombucha-plant-giving friend gifted fella and I a beautiful collection of fancy salts last year. I’m a Himalayan Salt kind of girl most of the time, but I’ve been enjoying experimenting with other varieties, including a smoked salt, and a red volcanic salt that contains traces of minerals, thanks to a small percentage of clay found in the crystals.
Today’s scramble uses kala namak, sometimes called black salt (along with several other varieties of darker salts). When shopping for it, look for its proper, Indian name, though, since a few other types of salt are also ambiguously called black salt. What makes kala namak special? The natural occurrence of sulphur, which adds a savoury, umami taste and smell somewhat akin to eggs.
Okay, I’m dressing it up. Here are some less dainty descriptions:
Wikipedia: “Those who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as similar to rotten eggs.”
Or there’s this forum topic on the Post Punk Kitchen:
Be that as it may, some vegan cooks positively swoon over this stuff. As you can imagine, it features in recipes for egg-esque dishes like scrambles, omelettes, and tofu salad or chickpea salad sandwiches. As always, I was game to try. I will say this recipe didn’t have me clawing for an ingredient list to convince me it didn’t contain actual eggs, but the end result was tasty, and satisfied my perpetually savoury palette. Here’s what I came up with.
Tofu Scramble with Kala Namak & Fresh Basil Leaves
3/4 cup tofu, broken into large, rough chunks
1-2 garlic cloves
1/8 to 1/4 tsp kala namak (reduce salt to a couple pinches if subbing regular salt)
black pepper, to taste
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
oil, for sauteeing
a handful of fresh basil leaves
1. Finely grate the garlic clove(s). In a bowl, season the tofu with the garlic, 1/8 tsp of kala namak, a sprinkling or two of black pepper, and the fresh thyme.
2. In a frying pan (I favour cast iron), heat enough oil over medium to sautee the tofu. When hot, add the tofu, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Sprinkle on nutritional yeast. Add just a splash of water, to prevent the nutritional yeast from burning. Taste; if needed, add as much of the remaining 1/8 kala namak as meets your tastes.
4. Sautee another minute, then remove from heat. Plate and toss in basil leaves, mixing until combined.
This recipe is definitely one that would only benefit from the inclusion of any chopped veggies you have on hand and care to throw in. But it’s also yummy on its own, and provides iron, calcium, and protein, thanks to the tofu, a healthy dose of B vitamins from the nutritional yeast, and manganese, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin K and Vitamin C from the basil leaves. My basil was garnered from the garden while the tofu cooked. Yes, I brag. I enjoyed my bowl of goodness with a slightly naughty and utterly delicious vegan croissant and a sliver of Daiya.