Thursday, 26 November 2015

My Masala Dabba

Twilight Taj Mahal
Tasting different spicy foods whilst travelling in Northern India and Kashmir earlier this year has encouraged me to be more experimental 
An Indian spice tin known as a Masala Dabba is a staple in most Indian homes. Cooking is so much easier when all the spices you need are close to hand rather than tucked away in the back of a cupboard, often forgotten, and turning stale.
A good Masala Dabba is made of quality stainless steel and has an inner transparent sealing lid in addition to the air tight outer lid to keep the spices fresh.

They have seven little bowls which are filled with favourite spices.
The best way to obtain spices for a Masala Dabba is to visit a an Indian shop where the spices are often cheaper and fresher than those purchased in small jars from the supermarkets. However, because I visited Istanbul's Ottoman era Spice Bazaar my Masala Dabba has been filled with spices purchased there.
Rooftops Istanbul

As I selected the spices I wanted in the bazaar, they were vacum packed for transporting home, and accompanied by a sample of turkish delight to taste - pompegranite with hazel nut, pistachio, mixed nuts, rose, orange and creme de menthe...... 
Spices to make curry apart from the Sumac - a spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine to enhance humous, meze, sprinkle on fish, chicken, raw onions, and in salad dressings. It can be used as a substute in any dish which uses lemon juice.

42 comments:

  1. Never heard of this, but it looks very nice. I haven't seen any shops in the UK which sell these spices fresh, but there are probably some in other parts of London. I agree with you about spices getting stale in the back of the cupboard and all ethnic ingredients are better purchased from shops. We have a nice Japanese shop near us and their sushi is about 100 times better than the stuff in Waitrose!!

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    1. I have already made my first curry Jenny and it was a great success - no more handy readymade jars for me. You can usually find the spices if you visit a community where Asians live. I bought my Masala Dabba from Lakeland but I have seen the same one in Tescodirect.

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  2. What a great way to store spices. The supermarket bottles are so fiddly and nowhere near as attractive. Opening up the masala dabba must be a feast for the nose!

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    1. That's right Jessica - the scent from the spices is divine.

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  3. My husband lived in India , up near the border of Kashmir , many many years ago. Good thing for me, he always knew the right dish to choose when we went to Indian restaurants here in New York :)
    Not to mention the other wonderful things he brought back ... some spiritual , some warm and soft ..

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    1. I am enjoying experimenting with the spices and trying to discover some of Asian secrets connected with their food preparations.

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  4. All your photos in this post are SO striking, it's impossible for me to pick just one or two as faves.

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    1. The photos have that touch of the east, but so pleased that you enjoyed seeing them

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  5. Hello Rosemary, It's very chilly here today, so all those spices warmed me up remotely. In the U.S., staghorn sumac grows everywhere. Its abundant red fuzzy seed clusters have a tart flavor. All you have to do is steep them in water, strain, add sugar, and get instant pink lemonade.

    I know you don't celebrate it over there, but have a Happy Thanksgiving anyway! Your "Indian" dinner is oddly appropriate.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I have a feeling that I might be a little too late to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving as you are, I believe 8 hours ahead of us, but hope that you had a lovely day,
      I only came across sumac used as a spice when I saw a cookery programme on TV just before leaving for Turkey so decided to give it a try. All of the spice stalls in the bazaar were selling it.

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  6. I haven’t known masala dabba. What a beautiful steel container with glass lid! The container can spice up the look of the kitchen and I imagined the exotic aroma filling your house when you cook. It must be convenient because you don’t have to look for spices when cooking. I’d like to have my own, because spices would be kept dry with inner sealing lid and outer air tight lid even in notoriously muggy Japan’s summer. While I eat curry at authentic Indian restaurant, I cook curry and rice mostly made from instant curry roux, which is available in block and powder, at home.

    Yoko

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    1. I made a curry this week and used a small spoonful of each spice apart from the sumac and cardomon pods. I used the cardomon and some saffron to flavour the rice.
      I am sure that if you are interested in getting a masala dabba you could easily find one on the internet, that is where I purchased mine.

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  7. A mouthwatering post , how lucky to get all those spices right from the source , and the turkish delights are irresistible to my sweet tooth !

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    1. The proper turkish delight is so much better at source than the stuff we get here.

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  8. Very ingenious way and containers for storing spices. I like spice, but not too spicy foods I like. I do not feel the flavor only have a fire in your mouth. Regards.

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    1. I too do not like spices really hot, but just a little heat

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  9. Hello Rosemary, this is Victoria, a while back you looked at my blog and were so kind to follow me. I so appreciate this. You noticed that I did not continue for quite some time to write. There were many reasons, one that I am writing a book. Now I have decided to find my way back. Thank you for this interesting post, today is Thanksgiving here in the States and I am grateful for something new I learned here. Our daughter is for a year and half already in the UK at school and I miss her a lot, just came back from a visit and delighted again so much in the beautiful countryside. Essex and Kent. Love theses many small villages, so cared for and pretty. Visited Canterbury Cathedral, so stunning and beautiful!

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    1. Hello Victoria and thank you for visiting - I too was in Kent recently but did not have chance to visit Canterbury Cathedral, it is a long time since I was there previously.
      I hope that you enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving.

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  10. Lucky you, being able to buy your spices at a spice bazaar in Istanbul. The smell of fresh spices is intoxicating - especially to people who like to use them in their cooking.

    Ms Soup

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    1. It is enticing to see the fresh spices all piled up in little mountains.

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  11. I don't know of a place here in Northern Tasmania that sells spices that are fresh like you have shown.
    Love a hot curry, and I often wonder how hot is an Indian Curry!

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    1. They have hundreds of different curry recipes in India from very mild to extremely hot. Some are creamy using coconut milk or yogurt and some are fruity - all of the regions do totally different recipes.

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  12. You make my mouth water for those dolces, Rosemary! Your Masala Dabba looks great - as we don't have many Indian shops here (though many Turkish) I have to go to the supermarket, but that's ok.

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    1. I expect you can buy fresh spice in the Turkish shops - I wish we had Turkish shops here then I could buy my favourite pistachio Halva.

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  13. I have never heard or seen such a spice saver. Neat! We do have a grocery store that sells spices this way. That way I can buy like two tablespoons or so of a spice that I am not sure I will use again.

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    1. You are fortunate to have a grocery store that sells the fresh spices - the shop must have a wonderful aroma

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  14. Dear Rosemary, I love the idea of a Masala Dabba. Do you keep yours on the kitchen counter, ready to use?

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    1. Dear Gina - I am loving this simply little device - yes, I am keeping it close at hand along with my pestle and mortar.
      This week we have enjoyed a beef curry, an Indian chickpea dish using cocoanut milk, and tomorrow I am going to try my hand at making falafel.

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  15. Gostei de visitar o blog tem belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.
    http://andarilharar.blogspot.pt/

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    1. Obrigado pela visita e pelo seu comentário tipo

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  16. I'm not very fond of spicy food but of course it depends on how much and its quality. I'm sure your supplies are the best!
    Happy kitchen adventures!
    Olympia

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    1. Hello Olympia - most of the spices I bought were gentle ones apart from the chilli which I use sparingly. I will enjoying doing some experimentation with them all.

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  17. Just as there are many places to visit in the world, it is the same with foods and spices! I have only recently discovered turmeric root (as opposed to the dried spice) and find it astonishingly peppery and delicious (and healthy.) I can only imagine the amazing aroma that will fill your kitchen as you cook with these new spices, reminding you of your trip.

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    1. I think that I read somewhere that you can grate the root of tumeric into almond milk and make a pleasant drink. Really enjoying using my little Masala Dabba endeavouring to create alchemy in the kitchen.

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  18. Suer pictures of your iron plates with the cups.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  19. You have reminded me that I've always wanted one of these spice trays- I must keep a look out.

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    1. I don't know whether or not you can buy them in Turkey, but you can certainly get them on the internet. Over here I got mine online from Lakeland, but also saw the same one on Tesco Direct.

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  20. All your photos are always so beautiful.
    Hugs

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    1. That is very kind of you to say - you have made my evening

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