Making your own pastes takes effort as you are essentially doing everything from scratch.
However, the effort is well worth it as anything that is less processed is better and it will also taste better than sauces that you buy.
In the past, our grandmothers had only the lesong. This was the granite mortar in which spices were ground, using a pestle.
With it, they could choose to make coarse pastes or fine ones from whole spices and herbs.
Today, there is a range of kitchen helpers, all mechanised, to help with an assortment of tasks. But it can be confusing to decide which one to buy for your needs.
Before the food processor came along, there was only the blender. This was a single-function appliance designed to make smoothies or to turn soups into creamy concoctions, by blending.
But Asian housewives soon learnt to grind spices in it, with water, as the machine needed liquid to do its work.
The addition of liquid made it less than ideal as it watered down the contents. So, some cooks decided to use oil, which could be used for cooking afterwards.
The food chopper solved that problem. It is a single-function device that can break down spices without liquid. But it turns everything into a smooth paste, something that is not desirable if you are a nonya who prefers her sambal blachan to be coarse with bite.
To solve that problem, you stop the machine before everything turns into a mush.
The chopper with a stab blender combined both these functions. You can chop and blend with this one.
But the food processor is in a class of its own. This multi- function machine can blend and chop as the other two, but it also shreds and slices vegetables, using various blades for this purpose.
It is a powerful machine which you have to control with the stop- start button to obtain the textures you want for rempahs.