The Spice Box Sojourn

If you know me, you know I like spices. I like Indian spices, Middle-Eastern spices, Mexican spices. I mean, all kinds. My roommate and I have a lofty pantry of spices of all variations and we even have stocks of it as inventory for those times when we are worried that we might not have enough.

When I was packing my bags for my journey to Montreal, my Mom packed me a spice box. It is a handy round box with individual compartments for each spice and the box comes with a tiny teaspoon to sprinkle in spices to your dish. It is a common fixture for many Indian households. It serves a dual purpose of space management and aesthetics. The thing that makes the spice box interesting is the fact that depending on which part of India you are from, what you put in your spice box varies. And depending on your scale of operations, your spice box size varies too. For most home cooks like my Mom, we always had a standard stainless steel 7-container spice box.

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For my mom, her standard 7 spices in her box that she regularly reaches for are: turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, cumin powder, and whole cumin, nigella seeds, and coriander powder.I have these spices in my plastic 7-container spice box, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder and whole cumin, nigella seeds, coriander powder, and panch phoron (a 5 seed blend used for flavoring). As you can see, my Mom and I have pretty much the same set of spices in our boxes since we both cook Bengali dishes. My mom also has a habit of stuffing spice packets in the nooks and crannies of her spice box to maximize the utility of the box.

Some households also have their own blends of spices that go into their spice box. A glimpse into a spice box is like a window into the type of cuisine a family cooks. As I try to cook Indian dishes that are at most one-tenth the quality of food my Mom makes, my spice box not only helps me with the cooking process but also serves as a nostalgic piece in my kitchen.

Category: food

Written on July 14, 2021