Wednesday 19 August 2009

Masala Dabba (Spice Box)

Almost every Indian household has a spice box or, in Hindi, a masala dabba. It is a good way to store your spices, and keep them away from light and moisture.

A friend mentioned to me that she would like one, so I had Mr Ladybird pick up a small one from MGM Spices on Cleveland St, Surry Hills. It's a small version, and I think it's just adorable. The perfect size, especially if you're not using it every day. I haven't taken a picture of the one we got for her, but here is what it would like once filled:

The average masala dabba is made of stainless steel and has 7 individual compartments where you can store your favourite spices. The spice box also has a snug-fitting lid is sometimes see through, but I prefer complete stainless steel (keeps out the light).

So, what do you put in each compartment? It varies from household to household, but this is what I keep in my masala dabba: turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander power, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ajwain seeds and fenugreek seeds.

So if you are interested in Indian cooking, throw away those spices you bought in the 1990s that now resemble and taste like sawdust! Why not invest in an authentic masala dabba and start getting creative!

Some spice tips:
  • Don't buy spices from the supermarket - you are sure to get ripped off, and there's no telling how long the spices have been on the shelf in that clear plastic packaging. Instead, go to an Indian spice shop.
  • For spices such as cinammon, green cardamom, bay leaves, saffron, keep them in separate containers in the fridge (or else in a cool, dark place). Doing this will keep their flavours longer and ensure the flavours don't mingle together.
  • Buy your spices in small quantities as they go stale and lose their flavour over time. Keep unopened spices/legumes in a sealed container in the fridge until you're ready to use them.
  • Be kind and patient with yourself :) The first few times you use spices you might be disappointed with the result. But persist and experiment with them, and you will slowly develop 'a hand' for it.


Ladybird x


  1. I love that you posted what you keep in your masala dabba & to keep cinammon, green cardamom, bay leaves, saffron, in separate containers. I just purchased my first dabba. I love cooking Indian, I'm of Mexican decent and love all the spicy Indian dishes. Great blog.

  2. Spice Box Online

    A traditional Masala Dabba or Spice Box in Stainless Steel and round teak wood base. Nestroots gives you the option to choose your favorite styled Spice Box for your Kitchen. Here you can find a good range of Spices Container Sets Online.

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