As a chef specializing in Indian cuisine, I am often asked some very typical questions. One, about a sauce, the second about a flatbread and the third one about spices. I continue to answer them with dedication over and over and see “lightbulb” moments on the very same faces of that had shown curiosity or intrigue.
Any guesses what those questions are? Well, one is “Can you teach me how to make Tikka Masala?” I nod and explain with dedication as if they will go home and make it right away based on my verbal recipe! The second one being, “I love Naan Bread! How do you make naan bread?” and it makes me smile, take a deep breath and start explaining the nuances of a good naan and how it can be achieved by one and all. These two are answered and part of the documented recipes in my upcoming book “The Vegan Indian Home” which is available on my website, and the third question, I will address through this blog post.
The third and most conversational is the question about spices! Of course! I always say India is known for two things, its SPICES and its SPIRITUALITY! Oh maybe I should’ve said Taj Mahal too, after all it is a world icon! Nah, on second thought, I will stick with MY two things of spices and spirituality. I am always asked the spice box or Masala Dabba, which is a staple spice container in every Indian home.
For those of you who have seen me in my FB live videos, you have always seen me pull my flavors from the humble spice box, some of you have even ordered from me, loaded, and are making the most of them. Long after the LIVE feed ends, I keep getting several messages about how to use them, where to get them etc. so here I will unveil the mystery behind the box.
The spice box is the most common element, the universal tool and the most indispensable piece of equipment in any Indian home. It is intriguing to note that all the phenomenal flavors that come under the umbrella of Indian cuisine are all contained in this 6 or 7 compartment Pandora’s Box. Every home has one even though commercial establishments couldn’t possibly work with something so dainty based on the sheer volume they make but for the home cook, it is indispensable.
With regional changes and variations in cuisine in India from state to state, it is fascinating that the contents also vary slightly based on the different regions of India. I am sharing the tool kit a.k.a the masala box ingredients from 4 prominent regions of India, North, South, East and West. In a country where there are more than 150 breakfast items alone from North to South and across East to West, it is no surprise that each household has their own signature garam masala and signature spice blends to make their food unique.
Take a look below and build your favorite one.
At the Queens Curry Kitchen, we customize your spice box to contain spices of your choice so you can have your toolkit handy to create heartwarming dishes for you and your family. You are welcome to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your custom made box