I've written in the past about using freshly ground cumin in my kitchen. After finding out that I could buy whole cumin seeds at a bulk foods store and just grind them up as needed -- and then tasting the awesome flavor that resulted!! -- I haven't looked back to pre-ground cumin. :)
We use cumin in many of our Mexican-style recipes, like chili and taco salad. Cumin, along with other spices, gives a great flavor without purchasing expensive (and less healthy) seasoning packets for taco meat or chili. :)
In the past, I've pulverized the cumin seeds with a rolling pin. It works, but isn't ideal, since it doesn't grind the cumin very finely.
I started looking for a mortar and pestle set (yay for SwagBucks, which allows me to order fun stuff on Amazon.com!). I came across this similar kitchen device, called a suribachi set. It got great reviews and was only $7.50 (with free shipping!) so I decided to give it a try. :)
I've had this suribachi set for about 6 months now, and used it many times (but only for cumin seeds thus far!). It works wonderfully!
The ceramic grooves grind very finely. It's a good size bowl (5.5 inches) for grinding up to about 3-4 tablespoons at a time (usually enough for a big pot of chili, at any rate!). :)
The set is described as useful for grinding and crushing seeds, herbs, and nuts. I'm looking forward to using it for nutmeg and other things (whenever my supply of pre-ground nutmeg runs out... better make more pumpkin scones!). ;)
The not-as-great part:
Made in China. A lot of the mortar and pestle sets on Amazon had reviewers complaining that they were made in China. This set is the "Japanese version" of a mortar and pestle but it's still made in China (something I wasn't aware of until I read the box from mine).
I haven't tested how much aroma the bowl retains from the spices ground in it. Cumin is pretty strong, and I wonder if when I grind a different spice in the future, it will have traces of cumin scent in it. (Probably not, if I'm not letting it set in the bowl for long periods...??) But that is something I have wondered about. :)
All in all, I have really enjoyed this suribachi set in my kitchen! It's a small gadget, but so handy!
Those of you who use a mortar and pestle, what do you grind with it? My mom has never had one so it's all new to me... :)