Masala Dabba or Spice box is a foundation of Indian cuisine. From a scrumptious breakfast, a delicious packed lunch box or turning any dish into a delectable dinner, spices have the main role in Indian cuisine. Today I am sharing what’s in an Indian Spice Box and essential Indian spices.
- What is Indian Spice Box called
- Why Do We Use Spice Boxes in India?
- What Is This Masala Dabba Aka Indian Spice Box?
- My Masala box
- Everyday Masala Box
- Whole spice box
- Tips for your Indian Spice Box
- Spices used in different parts of india
- Spices used in A South Indian Kitchen
- Difference between North indian and South Indian Spice Box
- West Indian Spice Box
- Do spices expire?
What is Indian Spice Box called
Spice box in Hindi is known as Masala Dabba. The spice box custom, which is often passed down from generation to generation, is distinctly Indian.
Despite the fact that the box and the contents of the box may differ significantly, there are a few staple spices that are found in every masala Dabba/box.
“The spice box is a work of art or maybe brushes and paints to create an artwork in the blank canvas of dishes' '.
Why Do We Use Spice Boxes in India?
My spice box is a simple yet effective system for storing and accessing the spices typically used in everyday Indian cooking. The idea behind the Indian spice box is that you keep the box next to your stove.
The reason behind this is to have to scramble for different spice containers while the cooking oil is at its ideal temperature. In Indian cooking, the ideal temperature and stage is important to season and spice your dish so that the final dish tastes perfect.
What Is This Masala Dabba Aka Indian Spice Box?
A masala Dabba is a box, generally made of stainless steel or wood, that contains 6 to 7 essential spices and is commonly found in Indian households. The spice box's contents differ not just from area to region, but also from family to family.
You may get Indian spices online and stock your spice cabinet with the spices you use on a regular basis. If you're making North Indian food, you'll need Garam masala and Amchur; if you're making South Indian food, you'll want to include Urad dal and Chana dal in your Indian Spice Box. Other common spices include:
- Mustard seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder
- Coriander-cumin powder
My Masala box
I get this question a lot Where did I get my masala box from. It is a wooden masala box. I am sharing the affiliate link here: Buy This Masala Box
Everyday Masala Box
Indian ground spices are dried, crushed, and powdered. They are far more convenient to use than whole spices, and they give a ton of flavour and colour to any dish.
So let’s see the different spices found in an Indian spice box:
- Salt: Although salt is technically not a spice, it is such an important component of all cuisines that's why Indian households keep it accessible in the spice box. I sometimes season my dish with little more than salt, turmeric, and chilli powder. Simple, simple, and just a smidgeon of spice to give my food the appropriate taste.
- Cumin: Cumin is perhaps the most often used spice in my spice box due to the healthy benefits and an earthy flavours. roasted cumin is equally enjoyable due to its aroma. Cumin is a spice derived from the Cuminum cyminum plant's seeds.
- Cumin as a spice boosts antioxidant consumption, aids digestion, offers iron, improves blood sugar regulation, and lowers the risk of food poisoning. One thing to keep in mind with cumin is that it may burn easily, resulting in a bitter flavour that might damage the final meal. So keep an eye on it while tempering cumin in oil or ghee, and possibly decrease the temperature a little.
- Coriander powder: With a hint of citrus, this versatile spice lends earthy tones to Malabar curry, vindaloo, sambar, and rasam recipes. For some popular spice mixes, entire seeds are briefly roasted before being crushed with additional spices. Ground coriander is popular because it gives foods texture and can be savoured with every bite. For the perfect earthiness, coriander is frequently combined with cumin.
- Turmeric/haldi: Ground turmeric is one of the most commonly used spices in any Indian household. It is a bright, healthy spice with a peppery-woody flavour and a deep golden hue that lends a peppery-woody flavour to curries. It's used in everything from milk beverages to curries to stir-fried veggies, and even in facial routines, because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Mustard/rai: Many recipes, from curries to chutneys to pickles to salads, benefit from the flavour of these spicy, nutty seeds. Place them in a pot of boiling water and wait for them to crackle and burst, releasing their flavour.
- Kasuri methi: kasuri methi or tired fenugreek leaves is an aromatic dried herb that has a little bitter flavour, yet it gives curries a nuanced sweetness and restaurant-style flavour. Crush the leaves between your palms just before adding them to a meal to release the aromatics. They may also be used in North Indian dishes as a garnish. There is no suitable alternative for these leaves; in a hurry, you may omit them, but never use whole or crushed fenugreek seeds, which have a different flavour character.
- Red chilli powder: Indian chilies come in hundreds of different types. As one of the world's leading chilli consumers (the first being Mexico), these types cover a wide spectrum of flavours and heat levels. Chilli powder is sometimes referred to by the type of chilli pepper used, and the fiery peppers appear in practically every cuisine — chutneys and pickles, curries and stir-fries, and even cool beverages.
- ajwain/carrom: Bishop's weed, lovage, or carom are all names for a savoury seed. Ajwain is an uncommon Indian spice that resembles little caraway seeds but has a strong, thyme-like scent. They're often sprinkled on top of flatbread or fried with green veggies like spinach or kale in Indian cuisine.
- Cumin powder: Unlike cumin seeds, roasted ground cumin may be added to a dish at any time since its flavour is not affected by heat. The nutty taste adds a special touch to the meal. It has several health and medical advantages in addition to cooking.
Whole spice box
- Cloves and cinnamon: The evergreen clove tree produces these fragrant flower buds. They provide Indian food a somewhat sweet yet spicy fragrance. Cloves are frequently used with cinnamon and black pepper to create a delicious spice combination.
- kalonji/Nigella seeds: Dry roasted kalonji is used in India to flavour curries, dals, stir-fried vegetables, and even savoury dishes like samosa, papdis, and kachori. Aside from flavour and scent, the little black seed has a slew of health advantages.
- Coriander seeds: The seeds are known as Dhaniya in Indian cuisine and are an important spice condiment. The seeds have a fragrant and citrus flavour and are available in both dried and powdered form. The scent of the grounded form rapidly fades. As a result, it is best to grind the seeds as needed.
- Black pepper: These berries are endemic to southern India and grow on climbing vines. When the unripe green berries mature and turn red, they are collected and dried into what we see in grocery shops. Black peppercorns, whether whole or crushed, give meals a strong scent, depth, and fire. This essential spice is used in seasoning blends like garam masala and is a pantry must-have.
- Cardamoms and nutmeg: Elaichi and nutmeg both add a sweetness to the dish. A fragrant spice that is essential for Indian delicacies as well as curries and pulao. When using the whole pod, be sure to remove it before eating the meal. Discard the outer pod and crush the seeds into a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle for desserts. Sweet and fragrant nutmeg, the inside seed of mace/jaipatri, lends warm flavours to sweet foods. It goes nicely with saffron and green cardamom. Tilachi Poli, Puran Poli, Besan Ladoo, and Ukadiche Modak are some of my favourite sweets to which I add nutmeg.
- Star anise: The spice box also includes star anise, or chakri phool as it is known in Hindi. It's part of the "garam masala" used in meat dishes in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, which were influenced by Persian cuisine via the Mughal court.
- Saunf/fennel: The dried seeds of the fennel plant, a fragrant herb in the parsley family, are known as fennel seeds. Saunf Powder is delicious in chaats, salads, raitas, curries, and vegetables. Fennel seeds are high in nutritional fibre. It aids in food digestion and is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders.
- Methi/Fenugreek: To decrease the bitterness, little mustard-yellow seeds are dry-roasted or cooked in oil or ghee in a tempering (tadka). With a maple syrup undertone, this bittersweet spice pairs nicely with coriander, cumin, and red chile powder. For lentils and seafood curries that also utilise tart tamarind, try a little pinch of fenugreek seeds in your tadka.
- Mace: The nutmeg seed is surrounded by a scarlet outer lace or mace. This lace is dried and used to flavour soups and stews with a subtle nutmeg flavour. It's available as blades of mace or as a powder called ground mace.
Tips for your Indian Spice Box
- Store your masala Indian Spice Box in a cool, dry location close to the stove so it's simple to get to when you're in a hurry.
- Always fill the spices according to their intended use. In comparison to red Chili and Cumin-coriander powders, there is less Mustard, Cumin, and Turmeric powder.
- Keep the Spice Box away from water and humidity.
- When tempering dishes, keep the spice box a little away from the pan so it doesn't get scorched by the heat or oil splatters.
Spices used in different parts of india
One of the fascinating facts about Indian food is that when it comes to the usage of spices, there is a distinct distinction between North Indian and South Indian cookery.
Of course, there is a variation in terms of the oil utilised, with each region having its own favourites. So, even though the curry may appear the same and have all of the same fundamental components like veggies or lentils, the same curry or meal cooked with a unique collection of spices has a completely different flavour.
Spices used in A South Indian Kitchen
I believe we all appreciate our dosas, idlis, and the nutritious sambar and chutney that go with them. While the many areas of Southern India have distinct culinary specialities — Udupi cuisine, Kerala flavours, and Andhra Pradesh curries — there is one thing that they all have in common: mastery of spice.
A lot of freshly roasted spices are blended into chutney with coconut and then added to the boiling vegetables and lentils in South Indian cookery, especially Kerala style cooking. Though the use of spices in North and South India is similar, the amounts of certain spices that give each region its own flavour tend to differ.
If you want to comprehend Southern Indian cuisine, you must first learn about the spices that are employed. Spices cultivated in South India are often exported, however, they are best tasted in the nation. This is a list of the most important South Indian spices!
- Mustard Seeds
- Dried Whole Red chilli
- Black Pepper
- Urad Dhal
- Curry leaves
The main difference in most cuisines of India is spice blends that are used in everyday cooking. These spice blends are made using various spices in different combination and proportion that imparts a characteristic taste to a particular cuisine.
Difference between North indian and South Indian Spice Box
North Indian cooking has Cumin and South Indian recipes substitute it with mustard. North Indian cooking utilises Amchoor (raw mango powder) while South Indians use tamarind or Kokum. While North Indians love fenugreek leaves, South Indians prefer Curry Leaves.
West Indian Spice Box
While it is difficult, to sum up, all the spices used in a West Indian Kitchen because of the diversity of cuisine because of a large area.
Common spices along with what I have included in the Indian spice box You will find Asafoetida, kala or black masala spice blend, goda masala and Kolhapuri masala.
Do spices expire?
Spices do not become stale completely. The taste and aroma of spices come from the aromatic oil they contain. With time aromatic oils get evaporated and the taste gets affected eventually. Grinding them affects even more.
So it's a good idea to buy whole spices in bulk and then grind them in lesser quantities. Ground spices typically last 4 to 6 months, whereas whole spices last a year.