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Sunday, January 31, 2021

DIY Masala Dabba: Spice, Girl.

Custom Masala Dabba, created by me. From top left; Amchur (Mango) Powder, Paprika, Garam Masala. Row 2; Coriander Seeds, Curry Powder, Black Salt. Row 3; Asafetida, Extra Hot Chilli Powder, Fenugreek Seeds

I recently ordered a collection of Indian spices to broaden my culinary wheelhouse.  I am familiar with the basics of Indian spice culture, but there are literally scores of exotic and familiar components to choose from, that make up a delicious, often vegetarian dish.  It is customary to store Indian spices in a Masala Dabba or spice tin, from which you can mix and match spice combinations and flavors.  
There are seven spices that compose the core and correlate with dietary fulfillment and medicinal well being in Indian culture; cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and fenugreek.  These spices are some of the powerhouses of the spice world, touting antioxidants and medicinal values far beyond just one or two remedies.  The word Curry as we know it, is a Western Idealization and does not exist per se in India, as told to me by an Indian chef and restaurateur.  Additionally, Garam Masala is actually a combination of spices; cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, coriander and cardamom are often included, but are certainly not  exclusive.  A garam masala is strongly dependent on which region of India it comes from, with origins believed to stem from the Northern region.  Some regions will make a garam masala, which translates to 'hot or warm spices', into a paste using coconut milk, vinegar or water.  The further south you travel, the spicier the blends, a lot relies on locality of ingredients in relation to the person making it.  Some spice blends are handed down by families, generation to generation, which is magnificent; a recipe 'by any other name would smell as sweet...'
I came up with this vessel to accommodate my newly acquired collection of spices.  I knew that I wouldn't be cooking Indian cuisine daily, but I wanted easy access and to keep my spices as fresh as possible. I love the explosion of color Indian cuisine invites, so I chose the above spices to reflect as much; textures and shapes also.
I took to my culinary lab and created a suitable and highly adaptable item, with minimal overhead and versatility. I hope you can find use for one in your life too!
Supplies:
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks, I used multiple colors for visual appeal ( color coding, many reasons, all good!)
1 gallon food storage container, with lid
9 -2 oz. rectangle containers, with lids
Instructions:
Before using the glue, play around with the positioning of the cups, I found the way pictured above worked best for this design.
When ready, remove small lids.
Start gluing each cup into place, picking up one at a time from the prearranged positions.
Start with the one in the top middle. If using more than one color, glue one color at a time, as not to back track with the glue gun and be more time efficient.
I also added a splash of matching glue of each color on the lids, to complement the base.
Fill each compartment on the bottom of the small container with glue, then secure it to the bottom side of the lid, so that the finished ''dabbas", will be covered with the large container, an inverted lid of sorts.  
Make sure you make necessary adjustments for each smaller lid to fit properly onto each cup.
Once all containers are filled, with lids replaced, you may cover with the inverted bowl.
Since the items are secure, you may store them flat or on its side, depending on how much space you have available.  
Your newly created custom spice caddy is not just for spices however. You can also use it for jewelry, sewing supplies, beads or other small materials for crafting, condiments for a cookout or just about anything you feel there is a need for organizing on a small scale.  Enjoy! 



DIY Masala Dabba color coded and secure containers with lids

DIY Masala Dabba's color coded containers are secured with colored glue sticks

 
Various Indian Spices

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