India, located in a sub-tropical region, experiences a subtropical humid climate in the major parts of the country that calls for including hot and spice-rich foods in the diet.

Consumption of spicy food is considered healthy in such climates as it helps trigger gustatory facial sweating that is the result of smelling or ingesting spicy food and helps cool down the body. Also, hot weather is reputed to turn food stale, and thus, spices ladened with anti-microbial properties help in preserving the food. 

However, India’s diversity is so vast that across the entire expanse of the sub-continent, “Indian food” is bifurcated into various regional cuisines. For example, in the North East, there is hardly any use of spices in the diet, as they prefer natural flavourings in their food. As we move towards the South, the land of spices, there is a flush of overflowing flavours and aromas in their diets.

Curating down to the Masala Dabba unlocks kaleidoscopic flavours, and the famous Indian food is sketchy without its inclusion. The spices unleash the multi-hued flavours.

The purpose of Masala Dabba is simple: to consolidate the variable spices in one place so that they are easily accessible while cooking. Some of the bare minimum spices include :

CUMIN : This has a similar use akin to carom seeds (ajwain) and mustard seeds (rai). It is peppery, pungent, and warm, with a slightly earthy taste to it. It is used in both whole and grounded forms. Its grounded form is one of the main ingredients of garam masala.

RED CHILI : There are various red chillies employed in cooking, with the most common being Kashmiri red chilli. Kashmiri red chilli has mild heat, is tangy, and has an overpowering flavour. This is also used in both whole and powdered forms. However, the Scoville scale of different chillies must be kept in mind while adding them to your dishes.

CORIANDER POWDER : Although we all absolutely love the flavour and smell of fresh coriander, since it wilts faster, it is not easily accessible when in need. Coriander power comes to the rescue by imparting mild, sweet, and pleasant flavours with a hint of citrus burst. 

TURMERIC : Turmeric is a storehouse of health benefits. It is used in every dish so as to impart the dish with a yellow color as well as due to its antioxidant properties. There are varieties of turmeric, differentiated on the basis of their curcumin properties.

ASAFOETIDA : It is one of the most powerful spices in terms of overpowering flavour and aroma. It helps in treating flatulence and indigestion and has anti-inflammatory properties. 

GARAM MASALA : Its ingredients consist of cinnamon, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. Its inclusion gives a burst of flavours all in one. It makes the food lip-smacking, thus increasing the intensity of the spiciness in the dish. However, different regions have their own customized garam masala according to their tastes.

So, these are some of the most essential spices to be included in the masala dabba so as to experience rich, flavourful food. However, with time and expertise, one can customize their own masala dabba, opening which provides a whiff of their taste-goblets.