Wet GrinderManual stone grinders called aatuural and ammikal were used in kitchens even about 15-20 years ago when electric grinders and mixies were not that common. Now you will be hard pressed to find a kitchen still using those stone grinders. My mom's kitchen has an ammikal which is a rectangular piece of stone embedded in her counter top. A cylindrical piece of stone is rolled over the rectangular stone to make masala pastes. These days it rarely gets used being replaced by easy to use electrical appliances.
Wet Grinder InnardsCheck this link to see a traditional attukal or stone grinder in use. Here is a link to the ammikal.
Doing its jobBlenders Blenders pulverize anything to liquid or powder pretty easily. Infact they are made just for that. In an Indian Kitchen blenders/mixies are used for making chutneys, masalas, smoothies and spice powders. The Indian mixie especially compared to a blender in the US is made so that the blades are able to spin without addition of too much water. So if you are in need of a machine to make chutneys, masalas and the like blender is what you need. I a pinch blenders can also make idli batter but patience is required because these are not meant for the slow grinding that that idli batter requires. While I bought my wet grinder from a store here in the US I carried my mixie from India.
Indian Mixie/BlenderMy trusty old Osterizer Blender - 12 Speed did a splendid job till I bought myself an Indian mixie. During one my visits back home about 5 years ago found it hard to resist when the appliance/kitchen utensils store I regularly visit nad a 110V Preethi Chefpro Plus available right there. While the Osterizer blended masalas pretty well, addition of water was required to get the blades to move whereas the Indian mixie does not need water so it is a breeze to make make thick chutneys, masalas and powders. For me it is well worth it.
Comes with 3 convenient jars, tall for juices, medium and small for wet and dryIn a pinch a blender could well substitute for a grinder with which I used to make my idli batter long time ago. The grinders is worth it just for making idli batter. Idlis(rice cakes made with rice and lentils which are a staple breakfast item in South India) requires soaking/blending rice and lentils and fermenting the batter. It takes me about an hour(time for the process) to blend the batter which I do every other week. Having idli batter means easy dinner/lunch options throughout the week.
Blender doing its thingOf course without the grinder blending the batter is not always that easy. Blenders tend to heat the rice/lentil when blending which is not a good thing and the consistency of the batter also matters otherwise the idlis tends to be brick hard or mushy and slimy. I will be amiss if I do not mention that having the right rice is also very essential.
Trusted old OsterizerWhile the blender tends to chop with the fast spinning blades, the grinder uses a much slower spinning where a pair of stones spin inside another stone container to do the grinding. Disclaimer: This is intended as an article to talk about the appliances themselves not endorsing a product from a specific company.