No Indian kitchen is complete without this one essential that make or break our ''Rasoi'.Our Indian Food is packed with flavours not just with simple onion-tomato base but with our masalas that add punch to the dishes.This quintessential dabba is our go to when putting together each meal - it has an array of spices both whole spices and powdered spices, all arranged in one single dabba, making it easier to reach out to the spices every time we cook.
We are talking about the heart of our Indian kitchen:Our Masala Dabba.
Usually the Masala Dabba is a circular steel dabba, which has about seven katori like inserts to hold the dry spice powders. However to make it a lot more convenient, a lot of us have two dabbas, the second one often holds the whole spices as well.
The masala dabba makes it a lot easier as you can pick and choose your masalas from this dabba instead of opening each and every spice container while your kadai is on the flame. So we have collated the list of must have spices and condiments in every indian kitchen, so if you are setting up a new home, then this Masala dabba will be your go to hand dabba when you are cooking.
1.Salt/ Namak/ Uppu
Namak - swaad anusaar or salt according to your taste, the sole ingredients that brings out the flavours of all the other spices you put in any dish.
2. Turmeric Powder/ Haldi / Manjal Podi
Turmeric is from the ginger family - the spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and is responsible for the earthy flavor and will add a bright yellow color to any dish. Turmeric, one of the most popular Indian spices, has a long history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years. It has has a warm, peppery, bitter flavor. The flavor of fresh turmeric is slightly stronger than dried, and it stains very easily, so make sure you are careful with your clothes and utensils while using it.
3. Coriander Powder / Dhania
Very few dishes can be made without the touch of coriander powder. It has a pleasing aroma and lovely savour. It adds a tart and fruity flavor to recipes. Coriander powder has great health benefits, where it is usually consumed with water as it alleviates gas and aids digestion.
4. Cumin Powder/ Jeera Powder
The cumin seeds are dry roasted and pounded to a fine powder. The process of roasting the cumin seeds give out a lovely aroma, when the jeera powder is added to the dish it adds great flavour and aroma to the dish.
5. Amchur/ Dry Mango Powder
Raw mangoes are sun dried during the summer season, and is most commonly used in making chutneys, pickle and added to Indian stir fries like tawa vegetables or any dish with uses no tart ingredients like tomatoes or lemon.
6. Lal Mirch/ Red Chilli Powder
Dry red chillies are sun dried and powdered, varying from a choice of extremely spicy and low colour, to medium spicy & decent colour and to a rich red colour. Added to the dish depending on the level of heat preferred by the family.
7. Asafotida/ Hing
8. Sambar Powder
9. Rasam Powder
10. Garam Masala Powder
This powder is a blend of all the whole masalas, which is a large assortment of spices and seeds- bay leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves to name a few. So robust and versatile this garam masala powder, , that it can be used to flavour anything, rice preparations to gravies and some snacks too.
11. Chaat Masala Powder
12. Goda Masala
13. Panch Phoran Masala
14. Malvani Masala Powder
15. Koli Masala Powder
16. Bafat Masala Powder
17. Achari Masala Powder
18. Dhansak Masala Powder
19. Muri Masala Powder
20. Green Cardamom/ Choti Elaichi
- A versatile ingredient, it has a green outer covering and when the you open the pod, you will find black seeds, that give out it's main flavour. It can be used whole or the pod can be opened out the out cover of the pod can be discarded and the seeds alone can be used.
- It is used both in sweet and savoury cooking, from rich North Indian gravies to mithais and kheers. It is an essential ingredient in Awadhi and Lucknowi cuisine and not to forget an integral part of the Kashmiri Cuisine as well.
- Up North of India you will find people using this spice while making teas to make an Elaichi wali chai and it is also used in chai masala.
21. Black Cardamom/ Badi Elaichi
- A warm woody aromatic, compared to the green cardamom this is double its size and a dark brown almost black in color. It lends a smoky flavour to the dish, that is used in the authentic Maa ki dal which is commonly known as Dal Makhani or Black dal.
- It is used across the continent in recipes like dum biryanis and awadhi dishes. It forms an integral part of spices mixes like the konkani koli masala and the parsi dhansak masala.
This Black Cardamom is a great digestive and helps with respiratory problems. Black cardamom has very good anti-inflammatory properties.
22. Phool Chakri/ Star Anise
- By far the most aromatic spice that is used in Indian cooking, a star shaped beautiful looking spice used in recipes like biryanis and pulaos. The spice has sweet and woofy notes lending a flavour to that of fennel.
- An important ingredient in the malvani masala, it not only lends flavour and texture but also great aroma.Most often, yet not popularly known is that it is used in the authentic chai masala.
- The medicinal benefits include helping fight rheumatism and back pains. It is also helpful in warding off the flu and coughs and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties as well.
23. Dalchini/ Cinnamon Stick
- A woody yet sweet flavoured spice, cinnamon is the bark of a tree, that is harvested and sold in the form of sticks.
- This spice is used both as whole and powdered.Used in spices mixes and biryanis and pulaos, it is said the most popular ones of great quality is from the Ceylon region of Sri Lanka.
- This Ceylon cinnamon is said to be rich in antioxidants and very good for reducing cholesterol and stabilizing blood-sugar level, making it great for diabetics.
24. Laung/ Cloves
- Small, dark, tiny flower like, the cloves are highly strong and pungent. It releases its flavours in the oils and advisable to remove them before serving the dish in which it is present, as its bite is absolutely displeasing.
- Woody and warm, it finds its pace in the South Indian Kesari bath, pongals, khichdis and needless to say that they are part of most Indian spice mixes.
25. Sukhi Lal Mirch/ Dry Red Chillies
- The most widely used spice irrespective of cuisine, red chillies come in varieties of not just shapes but also colour and pungency. The wrinkles dry red chillies are high on colour and medium spic. Locally known as Byadgi in the South.
- Then come the Kashmiri red chillies which are essentially just high in colour. Yet another popular one from Gujarat is Reshampatti that has an a deep maroon colour and is medium spicy.
- Used not only in Indian everyday cooking, but also in chutneys, chutney podis, pickles and Indian spice mixes like garam masala and sambar powder.
26. Rai/ Mustard Seeds
- Dark brownish black, tiny ball like seeds, are these mustard seed that are mostly used in South Indian cooking, and the yellow variety is used in the West Bengal area in the Bengali cuisine.
- However mustard seeds can be yellow, black, or brown and are used interchangeably in the Indian cuisine. The flavor of mustard seeds is released when they are crushed or cooked in oil. Their smoky, nutty flavor adds to the taste and bite to the dish, and mustard oil is commonly used in the North of India.
- While the black mustard seeds are used in tadkas or rasam, sambar or any South Indian Dishes, the yellow mustard finds its place in achaars and pickles and freshly ground masalas in Bengali food.
27. Jeera / Cumin Seeds
- Warm and earthy, slightly sweet and slightly bitter, these tiny elongated, ridges, greenish brown seeds, are high in flavour and release their aroma when put in hot oil. Various dals and khadis, add the jeera tadka as the final step, to keep its flavours intact.
- Used in various gravy, dal, and rice recipes, often jeera is dry roasted on low flame and powdered, to be used in many recipes.
- It helps in digestion and is advisable for pregnant women to treat nausea and increase lactation. It also increases metabolism.
28. Methi Dana/ Fenugreek Seeds
- Brown small flat seeds, that are highly pungent are used in tempering most of the time as these seeds are bitter. In the state of Rajasthan methi seeds is used as the core ingredient where methi seeds are dunked in a rich flavourful gravy.
- Methi Dana is also one of the main five ingredients of the panch phoran masala.
- Fenugreek too offers great digestive properties, is used to treat diabetes, reduces blood pressure, and congestion
29. Kalonji/ Onion/Nigella Seeds
- Tiny black teardrop shaped seeds, Kalonji is quite pungent.It is used on naans and kulchas in the Indian cuisine and not to forget the lovely aroma and flavour they release when added to pickles.
- Kalonji as well is one of the five main ingredients of the panch phoran masala.They’re nutty, peppery and pungent.
30. Saunf / Fennel Seeds
- Green, cumin like long seeds, fennel seeds have a nice earthyflavour. When dropped in hot oil, they give out great flavour. They are sweet in taste and have a liquorice flavor.
- It is commonly used as a mouth freshener after meals. It is also a good remedy for stomach problems. It is known for its cooling and digestive properties.Fennel as well is one of the five main ingredients of the panch phoran masala.
- It is often roasted along with some salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice to add add flavour to it and this flavoured saunf is eaten after meals that will help digestion and act as a mouth freshener.
31. Jaiphal/ Nutmeg
- A rustic ingredient, this aromatic has earthy notes, that is essential mainly in Kashmiri cuisines, mostly in mutton recipes.
- Nutmeg is used by freshly grating it to avail its maximum flavour.
- Warm and sweet in flavour this aromaticaids in sleep as often parents add a pinch of powder in the milk to put children to a sound sleep.
32. Javitri/ Mace
- Derived from nutmeg, Mace basically is the dried outer covering of the seed. It has a vibrant yellowish-red tinge and is very aromatic.
- The flavor is similar to that of nutmeg but more peppery and strong.
- This spice is used in treating digestive issues like diarrhoea, nausea, stomach pain and intestinal gas. It is also used in treating insomnia.
33. Tej Patta/ Bay Leaf
- A fragrant leaf, that is dried and used in non vegetarian gravies and biryanis and pulao, bay leaves has a mildly bitter taste and it gives out a lovely aroma in the dish.
- Bay leaf can treat high blood sugar, gastric ulcers, fungal infections and migraine.
34. Dhaniya/ Coriander Seeds
- Brownish small dry balls, that are packed with flavour, dhaniya seeds is an integral part of the authentic garam masala.
- These seeds are used in curry powder, curries, pickles, sambar and rasam - famous South-Indian dishes are incomplete without their main ingredient, coriander seeds.
- It’s believed to settle an upset stomach and be good for digestion as well.
35. Ajwain/ Carom Seeds
- Carom Seeds are nutty and have an aroma quite different, refreshing in a way. They are highly aromatic, bitter and pungent. Used in Parathas like aloo and mooli paratha and the classic plain ajwain paratha.
- Carom seeds have huge digestive properties too.
36. Kali Mirch/ Black Peppercorns
- Originally Black pepper is native to India, primarily from the Western Ghats and Malabar region. It grows in damp, mushy areas, and does not require sunlight. It highly depends on many natural cycles, like rainfall, which is why the prices for fresh pepper vary a lot.
- For the best flavor, however, fresh black pepper can also be ground directly into dishes that makes the dish taste great.
37. Pathar Ka Phool/ Black Stone Flower
- Pathar Ka Phool is a species of lichen. Woody and musky in flavour, this spice is paper like. Goes well in biryanis and chicken-mutton gravy dishes.
- It is used extensively in Chettinad cooking, especially non vegetarian dishes, and in the Maharashtrian Goda masala.