Indian Spice Box - Masala Dabba

Spice Grinder

Indian Spice Box - Masala Dabba

Here at Curry Fayre we want to share our passion for curries and other Indian cuisine with like-minded individuals. If you love a curry and have yet to try and make one at home, you are seriously missing out!

Not only is it surprisingly simple to make most popular curry dishes at home, but it is also incredibly fulfilling knowing that you made the entire thing from scratch. Plus, with most Indian spices easily found online and at supermarkets, making homemade curries has never been easier!

Indian spices are the foundation of any good curry. There is a selection of Indian cooking spices that are used in most Indian dishes, including curries, so if you buy the right selection of spices then you can make all kinds of amazing curries in your kitchen without needing much else.

So, what exactly are the best Indian cooking spices and where can you find them? For an authentic Indian kitchen experience, we recommend buying an Indian spice box!

What is an Indian Spice Box?

An Indian spice box, also called a masala dabba, is a container used to store Indian spices for day to day use. A good masala dabba spice box also comes with a small serving spoon, typically ½ teaspoon.

Given there is a wide selection of spices used in typical Indian cuisine, including curries, it helps to have quick and easy access to the most used spices for convenient cooking.

While designs vary from each product, a traditional Indian masala dabba is a round metal container with several smaller cups inside that store the different spices. There are also Indian wooden spice boxes, which typical have a square design.

Depending on the size, expect at least seven containers to house the various Indian cooking spices used in recipes like curries and soups.

Whole and ground spices neatly organized in a metal tin.

Why Buy an Indian Spice Box?

While there certainly no problem using a traditional spice rack to store your Indian cooking spices, using a masala dabba is highly recommended for anyone making lots of Indian cuisine. This is because the container provides quick and easy access to commonly used Indian cooking spices, letting you easily prepare recipes without going through countless spice jars.

Also, because the smaller cups inside of the spice box container have no lids (only the large container has a lid), you save a lot of time and effort grabbing each of the spices as you cook. Timing is key for any Indian dish using lots of spices, so it is useful to have quick access to all the spices you are using.

You do not need to use them for Indian cooking spices either! A good masala dabba can store any type of herbs or spices you are using, so those periods you are cooking less curries you will still get lots of use from the Indian spice box.

Plus, you don’t need to buy one for yourself – Indian spice boxes make a great gift for anyone that loves to cook!

What Spices Do You Put in an Indian Spice Box?

The Indian spices stored inside the box differ from each person, although there are some that are more common than others. These are typically the most used Indian spices, although because there are variations to each recipe, you really can store all kinds of spices.

However, because some species are common in most Indian recipes, there are certain spices you certainly want to include inside an Indian spice box. Common Indian spices stored inside the box include:

  • Mustard Seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Chili Powder
  • Garam Masala (or other Masalas)
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Ground Coriander
  • Amchur
  • Fenugreek
  • Ajwain

As mentioned, there is usually seven containers inside a masala dabba, so you tend to store the seven Indian spices you use most often. If you are unsure what spices you are likely to use in your Indian recipes, make a few dishes or research recipes you want to make, and you will see what spices are frequently used.

How to Buy the Best Indian Spice Box

Finding the best Indian spice box is easy once you know what features to look out for. Check out some tips below for how to find the best masala dabba for any budget:


Stainless steel is the most popular material for an Indian spice box, and for good reason! Strong and durable, this material is perfect for keeping spices fresh while lasting for many years to come. Buy a good metal Indian spice box and it should last a lifetime.

Wood Indian spice boxes are also popular, offering a rustic appearance that fits well with most kitchen décor. These usually resemble a small box rather than a round container like metal masala dabbas, with individual compartments for different spices.

While they look beautiful, Indian wood spice boxes are not quite as durable as metal, and can be trickier to clean, requiring a damp cloth to wipe each section. Metal continers are easily washed in the sink or dishwasher.


Consider the size of the spice box, ensuring that you buy something that is large enough for your requirements. Think about how many people you tend to cook for, with larger households needing a bigger capacity to accommodate the increased volume of ingredients you use.

For example, if you typically make curries for four to five people, then you will need a larger spice box compared to someone that is making meals for one or two people.

Moreover, the size of the box determines how easily you can store it. Anyone short on storage space may want to consider a more compact spice box.

Serving Spoon

The best Indian spice boxes come with a small serving spoon. This is usually ½ teaspoon in size, being much more compact than a standard spoon. The reason you want a serving spoon included with the spice kit is that normal spoons are usually too large, so won’t fit inside it for easier storage and spice distribution.

Lid Seal

Make sure the lid comes with a quality seal, as this ensures the spices are stored in an airtight environment, keeping them fresher for longer. Remember, most spice boxes only have a single lid for the large outer container, so it is important to choose a good quality seal so that your spices remain fresh.