These Are The Essentials Radhi Devlukia Keeps In Her Spice Box - Exclusive

Radhi Devlukia headshot
Radhi Devlukia headshot - Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

The role of an expansive spice rack cannot be overstated. With the right spices, a home cook can do anything. They can turn boring eggs into a delicious breakfast or make convincing plant-based versions of conventionally meat-based dishes. As a lifelong cook, Radhi Devlukia knows this. As a successful kitchen content creator, dietician, nutritionist, and author, Devlukia now actively teaches people about the importance of keeping the right spices on hand and within reach.

Recently, Tasting Table caught up for an exclusive interview with Devlukia to discuss parts of her new cookbook, "Joyfull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly." The book offers numerous plant-based snacks, drinks, and meals, as well as Devlukia's advice on how to make lasting changes to the way you eat. Each recipe hinges on a balanced combination of healthful and tasty ingredients, especially spices, which are employed generously and intended to bring maximum flavor. In addition to the suggestions in "Joyfull," we wanted to know Devlukia's personal favorite spices.

Her selections represented a balanced profile. Devlukia told us that she always keeps a mix of savory spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala, and mustard seeds), something fragrant (chili powder, smoked paprika, and turmeric), and something sweet (cardamom or cinnamon). As for how she organizes her spice strategy, Devlukia shared a tool she uses: "It's called masala dabba, which means it's a box with seven different compartments, and they're your seven essential spices. That's what usually every Indian household ends up having."

Read more: 21 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice

What Is A Masala Dabba?

Mix of spices
Mix of spices - Prauzelinchen/Shutterstock

A masala dabba is quite literally a spice box, though its shape is far from square. Instead, dabbas are circular or shell-shaped, with small bowls, called katori, for each individual spice. In terms of composition, there's no exact formula of spices that defines a masala dabba. However, as a tool for South Asian cooking, they often have a traditional lineup similar to the spices Radhi Devlukia recommends — garam masala, mustard seed, and fenugreek are a few key spices you may want to look for if you're purchasing a pre-packaged masala dabba. 

Masala dabbas typically come with a tight-fitting lid so your spices don't dry out or become stale while sitting on the counter. And the counter is the ideal spot for it. The container is intended to keep seven(ish) essential spices at hand at all times so that your food can always benefit from a pinch of this or that. Some chefs, however, keep masala dabbas with closer to 20 spices. If building out your own masala dabba, you might consider organizing the spices by flavor profile or even try making multiple masala dabbas to match the flavor profiles of different international cuisines. Just be sure to label which one is for Indian cooking and which one is for Mexican night. The way that you design your masala dabba is up to you, but regardless, it's a powerful tool to keep in the kitchen.

Radhi Devlukia's cookbook, "Joyfull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly," is out now. You can purchase it here

Read the original article on Tasting Table.