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I am looking for small size and lightweight mortar and pestle.

I checked online (amazon.in) and offline but all products are very heavy. I need a super lightweight mortar. Will that work well for cardamom pods?

If a light mortar is not suitable, what are the alternatives to crush cardamom?

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  • Dear all, I now changed the focus of the question. There was some information in comments which indicated that there is some controversy about whether a light mortar is suitable at all, so I made the question about that - hopefully, it is more answerable now. Everybody is welcome to share their knowledge about the need (or lack of it) for weight in a mortar, and of course to post alternatives.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 13:40

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Cardamom (inner) seeds are fairly soft, and crush well in my olive wood mortar (the pestle is made of the same wood). Cracking the pods to get at the seeds is even easier.

Although olive is one of the hardest and densest woods, it's a lot lighter than ceramic or stone. Mine is similar to this one on Amazon UK (the pestle could be the same but the mortar is slightly different). Mango wood and beech are also used; they're only about half as hard as olive but should still be OK for cardamom. Unspecified wood is to be avoided as it could be very soft and not much use for spices.

The only thing I wouldn't use mine for is fenugreek, because the seeds are very hard indeed and tend to need impact rather than just pressure in a rocking/grinding motion. They might damage it but also the shape of the pestle isn't right for smacking the business end down onto them.

It's my spare as I avoid using utensils that will be damaged by the dishwasher, so it hasn't been heavily used. I sometimes cook properly when travelling with friends, and taking this one means a bit less weight in my already-heavy food crate, plus it's sure to be clean and dry when I pack. Typically when I'm cooking away from home I'll be crushing cardamom, coriander, and cumin, possibly mustard seeds for dhal or chilli. In the former I use a preground asafoetida/fenugreek mix which gets round the need to crush anything very hard. t's also fine for black pepper and allspice.

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For small quantities of spices, I would recommend a Japanese suribachi. This is a small, lightweight, ceramic mortar and pestle designed for grinding sesame seeds and other small seeds, like cardamom. I have one, and I use it all the time if I just need to grind 1/2 tsp of spices.

Cardamom is not particularly difficult to grind, so almost any small mortar and pestle is going to work for you (provided that it works at all -- there are some non-functional ones sold as kitchen decorations).

Before hitting online stores, I'd suggest looking locally. If you have an Asian supermarket anywhere near you (any nationality of Asian), they are likely to sell several different mortars & pestles. For that matter, if you have local potters in your area some of them may make & sell ceramic ones.

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  • Now you got me to wonder - are there "Asian supermarkets" in India? I suppose there must be some, at least in the big cities, but I doubt that "Asian" is used as the umbrella term.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 14:04
  • Well, in India, all supermarkets are Asian supermarkets. I'd be surprised if OP couldn't find a small M&P locally. I know when Iived in Nepal that M&P of all sizes were readily available from pottery & cookware sellers.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 21:04

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