What is a masala dabba/spice box and main spices to store in it?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Masala Dabba, there is no Indian house-hold that does not have one. This is known as an Indian Spice Box, it can be found sold in local spice shops, spices not included.

Now this is a handy little thing that helps with storing your main spices neatly, usually most Indian spices are bought in bulk or plastic packets and so to keep using from that packet will cause an unwanted mess, makes clean up such a hassle and lets be honest its not good on the eyes either. With this tin box, you can keep topping up spices that finish, also its easy to store, use and you will never forget a spice.

It can be found it a whole different range of sizes, so if you tend to cook Indian cuisine once in a blue moon or every day you can choose to your liking. There are small differences when it comes to what spices to store from house-hold to house-hold, there are some staples that must always be in your spice box, but the rest can be what dry spices you usually add or prefer.

In my masala dabba/spice box I find the spices stored in are staples, and are the base in literally every Indian recipe.


Turmeric (yellow colouring)
Paprika (fresher the better)
Ground cumin
Ground coriander seeds
Taj/Indian Bay leaf - if you see pictures of this they look like sticks - I would say checking your spice shop for them instead of using just a normal bay leaf
Whole cardamom
Whole Pepper

You must be thinking how big is your tin, there are times one spice is replaced by another in the tin, ideally that is how it usually is.
Also, most people mix their ground cumin and ground coriander together and store it as one.

Now I know some people also put gharam masala (combination of all dry spices freshly ground together) or even cinnamon that's entirely up to one-self and what your taste buds like.
If you are a beginner to Indian food, or you think its time to learn how to cook I would say take a good look and even smell these spices because you will be using them quite often!

It takes practice but as you learn to cook and when you start making marinades you will learn to use your instincts when it comes to measurements of the spices. I would say in the start make your marinade first than taste when you feel it tastes fine than add your meat, because it was save you from making an error and trust me we have all been there.

This is just a quick post explaining what a masala dabba/spice box is and what are the main spices stored in it.
I do plan to post once a week a new Indian spice, the low-down on it, what it looks like, what it smells and tastes like and what its mainly used for,
Any questions or comments, and if you feel I have missed any key points in this post let me know. Feel free to like, share and subscribe to this website for personalised emails on all updates.

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  1. one friend of mine said if kept in one box, the smell of spices mix and they dont smell as good individually after that. Any truth to this?