Photo courtesy of Nupur of One Hot Stove
At this time of year, newspapers and magazines and, yes, some of my favorite blogs, offer holiday gift suggestions for food lovers. I've picked up some wonderful ideas for new cookbooks and gizmos, and I'm looking forward to Menu for Hope (December 14-25), where I'll bid on more great foodie-friendly items to give as gifts.
Last year, I put together a series of eight posts with gift suggestions for food lovers. This year, I have one great idea, borrowed from Indian cooks. Take it and make it your own.
In every Indian kitchen, next to the stove, you'll find a masala dabba, a round spice box with seven smaller individual bowls inside. (Do you remember the beautiful story Nupur shared about hers in Other People's Pantries?) The box holds the cook's favorite spices, the ones that give special characteristics to that cook's favorite dishes. With an inner lid and an outer lid, the spices inside stay fresh.
Traditionally, the masala dabba holds the basics for Indian cooking, but you can customize the contents and fill the seven little bowls with any combination of spices.
Start with the masala dabba, available at Amazon.com for $22.95.
Then, have fun filling it with spices for any type of cuisine.
From The Spice House, put together a collection of Greek and Turkish spices, including Aleppo pepper and dried mint leaves.
At Penzeys, go south of the border, with cumin, ground chiles, and Mexican oregano.
Gather your favorite Asian spices from Dean + DeLuca, including star anise and five-spice powder.
Zamouri Spices is the place for Middle Eastern spices like sumac and mahleb.
And it's all available by mail order.
So... what would you like to find in your masala dabba? A collection of salts and peppers? Warm spices for baking? Chile peppers and chili powder? Or traditional Indian spices, like fenugreek and cumin seed?
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