Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indian Masala Dabba (spice box)

Masala Dabba (spice box) is essential part of an Indian kitchen in any part of South Asia! Spice type and combination may vary between regions, state, family and local areas but the box stays the same! In southern India, the regular essential spices will be cumin, mustard, urad dal, and some sambar masala or ingredients of sambar/rasam powder. In Western India (Maharastra) sambar masala will be replaced by goda masala or kalaamasala while in the east it will be cumin and corainder powder and in North it would be garam masala! Of course in North and east where they use mustard oil for cooking the mustrad seeds get replaces by panch phoron or simple cumin seeds!

Here is a masala dabba that I inherited from my mother -in-law who is from North Karnataka (Bijapur town) and lives in Bombay. Her essential spices included a mix masala powder that she made (I guess her mother's recipe) which she used in almost all her cooking... right from huli (a lentil soup/dal with pigeon pea lentil) to sambar to all her vegetbale dishes! This was her signature spice mix without any specific name! My mother's spice box always have panch phoron ( the five spice mix, see the picture)! Here in our case, it is mixture of east and southwest of India! We have mustard, cumin, urad dal, chili powder, turmeric powder and panch phoron and corander/dumin powder mix! Those are essential in our mixed kitchen....! Additional spices are in the shelf!

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    Indian Spices