I am SO thrilled to finally have my very own “Masala Dabba”.
A Masala Dabba is a stainless steel Indian spice box which typically contains 7 smaller individual containers to hold your favourite spices. You fill these compartments with your seven most regularly used spices, in Indian cooking this is usually a combination of red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, cumin powder, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and coriander. But of course you can customise your masala dabba with all your own favourite spices. Some dabbas have an inner lid, as well as an outer lid, and some outer lids are clear and others are closed.
I am very familiar with these as every Indian household has at least one of these boxes in which to keep their favourite spices. Growing up, I would watch with fascination as my mum’s Indian friends would cook holding the Masala Dabba in one hand like an artist’s palette, sprinkling spices here and there as if sprinkling star-dust into the pot. So I always wanted one…but as I am slightly obsessive about waiting to get the perfect thing I desire, I also needed one to fit exactly into my kitchen drawer, which means I have been looking for ages.
How ironically easy my quest turned out to be in the end. At my Ayurvedic Nutrition cooking class, our teacher had brought some to sell, and at a glance I knew these were the perfect fit.
Sometimes I wonder how I can take hours and hours sorting out spices (which I do about once a year), but I can. And I’m not going to apologise for it because it makes me so dang happy. Give me an empty cupboard, containers and my trusty label-maker and I’ll be occupied for half a day people.
I spent ages (too long) thinking about the logical way to divide the spices; should I divide them by most used, ground and whole etc. I decided on one dabba with my most used ground spices (thats the one with the cloves in it) and divided the rest into some form of logic like least used. Of course several spices look very similar so I labeled the lid rims with the names so I won’t mistakenly use coriander when I wanted cumin. Now I need to get tiny spoons to put in them; or as my friend Peter-Paul would say when he thinks of something new and exciting he (or I) could do: “Project!”
I hope in any case, that some of the love I put into sorting out my ingredients is conveyed to the food I cook 🙂
But seriously… how pretty, delicious and inspiring does this medley of textures and colours look?