The Healing Spice Racks of Ayurveda



A painter has a paint palette with a full range of pigments ready to mix and create.  An Indian cook has a masala dabba, a spice container with a range of powders and seeds with various tastes and colors ready to mix and create as well.  Both tools, both artists.

Most Indian kitchens contain at least one masala dabba, or Indian spice rack. The round spice boxes range in diameter from 7 to 12 inches and are typically made of tin, stainless steel or copper. Inside are seven cups with small spoons to scatter the spice of choice.  An inner lid keeps the cups and spoons in place, and an outer lid preserves the freshness of the spices.  The dabbas can be stacked on top of each other for additional spice storage.





A Dabba of This, A Dabba of That

Besides adding to our culinary experience, spices can make food easier to digest, allow nutrients to be better absorbed, help alleviate a symptom or two or even keep disease away.

The spices kept in each Indian cook’s dabba is personal preference, depending largely on favorite family flavors or sought health benefits.  I do not own a masala dabba myself, but, if I did, here are the seven spices I might put in mine and why:


Black pepper is a digestive stimulant and circulatory aide. Pungent and heating, this spice increases digestive juices and helps destroy toxins. Black pepper aides the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems.  I place it in my dabba as when included with turmeric, it acts synergistically and is better absorbed.  

Turmeric is an inflammation warrior.  More and more studies are listing this rich golden spice as a major cancer deterrent.  It is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to retard the growth of cancer cells causing prostrate cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, brain tumors, pancreatic cancer and leukemia. Studies show that it may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and joint inflammation as well.

Cinnamon kicks up the heat and kicks out the crud.  Cinnamon can go savory or sweet and is an effective spice for strengthening and enhancing the flow of circulation. It has antiseptic and detoxifying properties (great for that cold coming on!) and is an excellent blood sugar stabilizer.




Ginger is a great friend to the digestion. Both the spiciness and sweetness that ginger adds acts as a digestive aide and helps with food absorption.  It is a possible remedy for respiratory issues as well and be a great preventer of flu and colds.  Ayurveda healers consider it a great toxin neutralizer as well.

No buyers remorse for flipping the greenbacks for saffron. Saffron is pricey but gives back tenfold.  It contains cancer-fighting elements that could inhibit the progression of the disease. Its warm and tiny-bit sweet flavor can enhance energy, help with digestion, act as a cough suppressant and perhaps even an antidepressant. 



Oregano is antioxidant rich. The Journal of Nutrition revealed that oregano contains very high concentrations of antioxidants to fight against the effects of free radicals and infection, and, according to The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, oregano can help with muscle pain, bronchitis, headaches, allergies, intestinal parasites, and menstrual cramps.  A lot for a dark green flake.

Cardamom counteracts high blood pressure and pretty much everything else.  Cardamom acts like an intense diuretic that could significantly lower blood pressure. These diuretic properties also assist with waste removal through the kidneys clearing the urinary tract and bladder removing waste, salt, excess water, toxins all while combating infections, too.  All of that helps with detoxification.  Much like ginger, cardamom can alleviate nausea, acidity, bloating, and other stomach issues. Date night?  Chew some cardamon to freshen your breath. And, that citrusy spice can also clean up free radicals to help resist cellular aging.

So, what about you?  Do you have a dabba or two?  If so, what do you have in yours and why?  

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