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Fireworks at Pier 14, San Francisco Bay, Courtesy T

Happy New Year to one and all. May this year bring compassion, wisdom, good health and opportunities to all of us.

Let me begin this year with a question. As a Chef, what do you adore the most in your kitchen? Knives? Ladles? Umm..Utensils? Bakeware? Gadgets? Pesto? Cheese? For me, it is simply spices. I cannot cook without spices. It is as if every meal is invalid without a pinch of spice. Be it chili, turmeric, garam masala or any of the combinations. And if these spices are decorated in a Masala Box then no gift can get bigger than that.

Masala Box. Ground or raw spice container. I have seen one such box being used religiously everyday in my mom’s kitchen. Typically, it is a steelware box with small round containers to hold spices. Masala Box is instrumental is housing spices in a single space. In short, just a handy way to organize, especially when more than 3 or 4 spices are used in daily cooking on an average. A few common spices are chili, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander, garam masala, mustard seeds and black pepper. Most of these are used in either ground or raw form in cooking. Although, majority of Indian spices are known for warm properties, there is one popular Indian spice called saunf (fennel seeds) which has cooling properties and is used as a mouth freshener after a meal.

And I am so thrilled to own one such Masala Box. Thanks to my mom. Definitely feels like a second graduation with an apron and Masala Box after Grad Cap and diploma. Just one of the best gifts to start the year with. #Precious.

Before I sign off, leaving you with colorful pictures below, just wanted to remember a few words from Tagore’s most distinguished poem Where the mind is without fear.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where Knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into the heaven of freedom my father let my country awake.

Every word above resonates in today’s time. After the incident with Nirbhaya on streets of New Delhi, it feels as if Tagore’s dream of free, sensible, awake India is pending even after 66 years of independence. I pray and sincerely wish that my country and it’s citizens wake up. Rise, realize and respect women. Let us shoulder our responsibilities and speak against atrocities towards women. Silence is no more an option. It is a choice we have to make. Women are not books to be judged by it’s cover.

Haldi aka Turmeric


Everyday spice – turmeric and chili


CW: Turmeric, mustard seeds, garam masala, peppercorns, cumin seeds,
coriander, chili


Spice Box with tiny spoon


Common Spices and usage:
  • Turmeric Yellow mustard colored. Commonly used for Ayurvedic and medicinal properties
  • Chili powder: Red colored. Known universally. Hot spice.
  • Coriander powder: Henna colored. Sweet and mild in taste. Aids in digestion and increases appetite.
  • Cumin: Semi brown, black colored. Seasoning spice. Used raw or ground.
  • Mustard: Yellow or brown black colored. Used in seasoning. Rich in oil content.
  • Black pepper: Black colored. Serves as an alternative to Red Chili. Improves digestion. Native to India.
  • Garam Masala: Mix of various basic spices. Used in specific curries to give added taste.
  • Saunf: Light green in color. Resembles cumin. Used as a mouth freshener.
Sugar coated Saunf aka Fennel Seeds