A lot of Indian cooks blend their spices the exact same way: in a coffee grinder. They’ll tell you that nothing else does a better job of blitzing whole spices into a cohesive, uniform mix in a timely manner — as opposed to, say, a mortar and pestle.
Floyd Cardoz, the acclaimed chef of Bombay Bread Bar in New York, is an avid subscriber to this theory, and he swears by one particular machine: the Hamilton Beach Custom Grind Coffee Grinder.
Back when Cardoz was the chef of the since-shuttered Indian hotspot Tabla, “we would blow through spice grinders like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “I tried every brand, and the bowl was too small or they were not easy to use or they were not easy to clean.”
The Hamilton Beach model has easily outshone all the rest. First, there’s the customizable settings, which allow you to control the level of coarseness you want for your spice blend (lamb xacuti, a poppy seed and coconut based stew, he says, might call for a coarse ground, while a gravy for a paneer dish would require a finer blend).
Second, it’s hands-free. Most coffee grinders require jamming forcefully down on a button for an extended period of time. With this one, “You can press it and go do something else, and it will still run,” Cardoz says, which is especially valuable during a busy service.
Then there’s the cleaning factor. While other grinders have tiny nooks and crannies and complicated cup and lid set-ups, the Hamilton Beach has just a single container that can be easily removed and washed in a dishwasher. For anyone wanting to cook Indian food at home, Cardoz believes this coffee grinder is an essential tool. “When you grind as many spices as I do,” he says, “this is just the most efficient way to do it.”
Buy Hamilton Beach Custom Grind Coffee Grinder, $32.69