Passionate cooking comes with a disregard for wanting to clean up and organize the kitchen. It is not from the lack of wanting, but in wanting to make a meal and then having it, organization can be pushed at the back. If you’re just a regular messy home cook, most probably the spices you use the most are in the front of you at all times at a handy distance from your stove.
On the flip side, there are herbs and spices that you have used only once and have been on the shelf for years, eating dust on their containers. Sometimes the look of different spices can be the same, and then you end up being confused and putting the wrong ingredient in your recipe.
To avoid all of that, we should organize our spices using a spice box. In India, there are certain masalas that we will probably use in every recipe we make. A classic stainless steel spice box or Masala dabba is a common feature of most Indian homes. It is where you keep your essentials. For other herbs and special masalas, you should buy a kit of small jars which you can put labels on. This helps you in separating your ingredients by priority.
Ideally, for Indian cuisine, you should maintain 2 spice boxes, one for powdered masalas and the other for whole spices, which come in handy for recipes like pulao and Punjabi curries. A classic stainless steel spice box will have 7 small open containers and a small spoon for you to use and measure spices efficiently. Here are the recommended contents which you should keep in your Masala dabba at all times.
- Mustard Seeds
- Cumin Seeds
- Turmeric Powder
- Coriander Powder
- Red Chilli Powder
- Garam Masala
- Amchur (dried mango powder)
Another box can contain the following dry whole spices:-
- Black Peppercorns
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Mace and Nutmeg
- Dried Red Chilies
- Green and Black Cardamom
These dry masalas are used in almost any standard Indian gravy or recipe. But depending on what you regularly make, your contents will change. For example, suppose you mostly make South Indian cuisine instead of North Indian. In that case, you can replace the amchur and garam masala with udad and chana daal since it is what are predominantly used in South Indian food. This dry spice box should be kept near your stove at a cool and dry place to avoid lumping and ruining the masalas.
The primary use of such a spice box is to give you an excellent convenient option to open different containers in which your masalas are stored in bulk. This way, you can have something that is close and takes very little space compared to all those containers individually.
When you’re looking to purchase a spice box yourself, look for something with high-quality stainless steel. Better quality will last for a lifetime if well taken care of. Get a size that fits your needs because these spice boxes come in various sizes. Ensure that the lid fits perfectly before purchasing because you need to keep the contents airtight. Make sure your box comes with a small measuring spoon to help you put things in your recipes accurately.
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