What's the best gadget for grinding whole spices and spice pastes for Indian cooking? Chowhound makf1127, a student of Indian cooking, has watched chefs use blenders and food processors. Which is more effective? What do cooks in India use?
A lot of Chowhounds regard a blade coffee grinder as an indispensable grinder for all spices, including Indian dry mixes like garam masala. They don't take up a lot of space, are pretty easy to clean, and get the job done, emu48 says. You can buy one for $15 to $20. A grinder is effortless compared to the mortar and pestle, but as Gio points out, a mortar and pestle delivers a grind with a coarser texture, which for some recipes is desirable. Still, Kulfi thinks a coffee grinder is best—just adjust the grind time, depending on how coarse or fine you want your powder.
Meanwhile, pamelak52 uses a Magic Bullet blender for everything; her mother-in-law has used it to make powders, pastes, and chutneys. And the powerful food processor known as a wet grinder is great for turning soaked dal and rice into batters for idli and dosa, pamelak52 says. But unless you're making those more than once a week, a small food processor or spice grinder will do just fine.
And while a food processor is great for coarse pastes of ginger, onions, and garlic, a blender will render a much finer paste. Only powerful blenders can successfully grind both wet and dry ingredients to any degree. You can approximate the Indian blenders/food processors known as mixies (Preethi is a popular brand—you can get one online for $100 to $180), in Kulfi's opinion, with a Vitamix.
Discuss: Appliances for Indian cooking