Are there common household items that can serve in place of a mortar & pestle? Specifically, something with a little grit (not a porcelain / stainless steel bowl) to grind things up finely.
You can find bellow, few alternatives to mortar and pestle:
- Rolling pin
A rolling pin can work in place of a mortar and pestle for items such as onions, garlic or fresh herbs and spices. Chop the herbs first, then crush them with the rolling pin. Although it will work as an alternative to a mortar and pestle, it is messier and requires more cleaning.
- Bowl and Small Hammer
A mortar is bowl-shaped, which is a possible alternative. A small hammer may take the place of the pestle, but it must be cleaned before using it on food products. Take care not to break the bowl. Use a movement similar to that of a mortar and pestle: Press down into the bowl with the hammer to crush the item. Grinding is less effective because the bowl can break with too much vigorous grinding.
- Spice Grinder
A spice mill will grind spices or herbs in a manner similar to crushing them. The oils are not extracted and from a spice mill, but it does powder spices for easy cooking. Place the spices in the grinder, press the button to turn it on and work.
A mixer, such as a spice mill, will powder and grind spices or other ingredients. The problem with a blender is that it needs a larger amount of spices to work effectively, as spices or herbs need to cover the blades. A quality mixer will minimize the problems, but it is less effective than a mortar and pestle for small amounts of herbs or spices.
Hope this helped :)