Appliances for Indian cooking
I have been trying to learn Indian cooking recently, and am interested in buying some equipment (blender/food processor/etc) so I can make more types of dishes. I have been researching different products all day, but I'm still not sure what is most suitable. Here are some video recipes for dishes that I'd like to make. For each, I have given a time where he uses a blender/food processor.
@ 3:50, he makes a fine powder out of some spices with a food processor
@2:31 he makes a paste with a food processor
@1:18 he uses a blender to grind roasted spices
@3:00 he uses a blender to grind a bunch of spices
Here are some specific questions:
1. In these applications, is it necessary to use specifically a blender or a food processor, or are they interchangeable in these cases?
2. Will the whole spices damage the blades of either one?
3. Can I do all of the things in those recipes with a single appliance? Or do I need to get both?
4. I had considered this food processor. Would it be appropriate? http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FP-12...
5. I would also like to make ginger/garlic paste. Is this a job for a food processor or blender?
6. I've heard that Indian blenders/food processors process food differently than ones available in the US. Will the common brands available in the US (Cuisinart, Kitchenaid, etc) be effective for Indian food?
7. I've read in a lot of places that coffee grinders are the best thing for grinding spices, but in many of the Indian recipe videos, they seem to use a food processor or blender. Is there really a reason to have a coffee grinder in addition to the other appliances?
I know I've asked a lot of questions... any bit of help would be greatly appreciated!
I actually use a Magic Bullet for all of those things. I also own a full size food processor, but like the bullet for this type of cooking because you have so many cups to work with and you don't have to keep washing the bowl while you're prepping the food. My MIL used my magic bullet to make powders, pastes, chutneys, etc multiple times daily for six months(lucky me!) and the bullet is still alive and kicking. MB would make ginger garlic paste just fine, too..
The blenders/food processors you are referring to in #6 are probably what are known as "wet grinders" - that's for grinding soaked dal and rice for things like dosa and idli. Plenty of people use a plain old blender. That's a pretty particular application, though, and unless you're going to make dosas and idlis weekly or more, I wouldn't spend money on that.
Coffee grinders: you might want a smaller work b owl (like that of a coffee grinder or MB) because if the bowl is too big, the spices just get tossed around rather than back into the blade for processing.
I have MB which I use mainly for masalas, ginger garlic paste and making tomato puree. But I have not used it to make dosa batter and dont think it will work as it has small cups. You can use any blender to make dosa batter. I make mine with oster blender which works fine for dosa and idli batters still not smooth like Indian mixies. Just my 2 cents.
Reason to have an electric coffee grinder used solely for grinding things other than coffee: They don't cost much or take up a lot of space. For smaller quantities of spices ground dry as opposed to with wet ingredients, they're better than a blender or processor. They're a lot easier to clean than the other two appliances, and a lot easier to use. A mortar and pestle do the same jobs with a little more effort and time. As an alternative, consider one of the mini food processors that handle only half a cup to a cup of stuff.
I won't comment on all your questions, but an inexpensive blade coffee grinder is very important for grinding up your own spices. I highly recommend you to get one. I was using the mortar and pestle, so much more work. A small coffee grinder is a must in my opinion -- and they are $15-20.
We cook Indian food frequently and have only ever used a coffee grinder and a mini food processor even though I have both a blender and a full size FP.. I do like to use a pestle and mortar for making pastes, however. And yes, it does take a lot of effort but one is able to get quite a nice mash that way.
<4. I had considered this food processor. Would it be appropriate? http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FP-12... >
The first time someone Indian brought food to my house, it was a coconut dessert in a 9 X 13 Pyrex. It was almost the same color as the Metallic Pink Cuisinart. And it had a layer of silver foil on top.
Oh, and like most who've posted, I use a dedicated coffee grinder for spices.