Month of September: “660 Curries” Masala Dabba or Spice Box

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Arundhati Roy

I have always wanted a spice box (masala dabba) and here it is! My first one. Isn’t it gorgeous? I could just stare at it all day. Spices are the backbone of Indian cuisine so I wanted to share a few things about them. According to this cookbook, in the glossary of ingredients, the author lists 35 spices and flavorings. Yes, that’s right, thirty five which I just realized is how many years Abby and I were friends. Just another weird coincidence.

It is important to note that spices should be fresh and ground in a spice grinder just before using if possible. Each spice can elicit different flavors depending on the technique used in preparation such as roasting alone, roasting and grinding, soaking, adding oil, mixing, etc. That is genius, I think. Pictured above are seven spices: cayenne powder, turmeric powder, coriander seed, cumin seed, mustard seed, star anise and cinnamon sticks.

Thinking about this palette of fragrances got me thinking about oil paint palettes which led me to think of art and how very true it is that fine cooking is an art. Abby was an artist. Her medium was willow, stained glass, fiber, wood, oils and pencil. I am an artist. Mine are spices, vegetables, herbs, grains and fruits. The more I understand what connected us the more I realize that appreciating beauty and creating was central to our way of seeing and being in the world. We felt like family to each other because of it. And with family comes ups and downs and we certainly did have ours.

It’s unthinkable now to let in that we lived a span of 9 years without talking. Why?? What that was about neither one of us understood. We never dug deep about it for some reason which is odd because we would deep dive all the time. I guess it was a growth spurt we both needed to go alone. In 2012 we reconnected coming back even stronger and closer than we had been in our twenties or thirties, now more seasoned and weathered. I never thought she would die so young and the dreams we shared for the future will never come to fruition. We had what we had and that was all. But that was no small thing.

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