Typically made of stainless steel designs range from being total utilitarian to more decorative pieces with clear lids.
The outer tin may be made of stainless and sometimes copper. The masala dabba consists of a large outer tin that holds 7 smaller tins and has an outer lid that fits atop the large tin and an inner lid that fits snugly on top of the smaller tins.
The inner lid is kept on top of the small tins of spice to keep dust and debris off the spice and to help keep the spices fresh. The larger outer lid should be kept in place for periods when the spices are not being used.
The set also includes from 1 to 7 spoons, depending on the set. While the spices contained within the masala dabba are a matter of personal taste some of the most commonly use spices include, green cardamom pods, garam masala, fenugreek, amchur, turmeric and panch phoron and ground chiles.
Masala dabbas range in size and vary greatly in quality. Common sizes are from about 7" to 12" in diameter. The inexpensive utilitarian sets are made of lighter weight stainless steel which can be easily dented. Try to find the best quality that still fits within your budget. A good quality masala dabba will last a lifetime.
Select a size that allows you to use your spice before it gets too old. A 12" masala dabba is probably to large for most households. A common size is 7" to 9".
Masala dabbas are made to have tight fitting lids to keep the dust out and "wildlife" out of the tin. If the tin lid is too tight, try applying a little bit of mineral oil or silicone to the inside rim of the lid.
Your masala dabba does not need to be used only for Indian spices. You can also use it for any of your favorite herbs or spices that you use in your daily cooking.**see note below.
Your masala dabba can also be used to hold beads or other collections of small items.