I have tried using my Hamilton Beach but it doesn't do a good job when I try to grind less than 2 cups or when I try to combine wet and dry ingredients like coriander seeds and grated coconut, for example.
Great question! Curry pastes and chutneys are difficult to create with most tools available in America; the spice grinder is too small and hard to clean, and even the smaller food processors can't grind the spices finely enough. I usually end up with shards of lemongrass or half-ground coriander in my curries too.
Here's a few suggestions. Comment away if you have used one of these products, or if you have other ideas for Nisha.
• Try the old blender and jar trick. Most blenders, especially older models, are designed to allow you to screw a standard glass Mason jar upside down onto the base. This smaller capacity jar effectively turns your blender into a mini food processor. You can see a picture of the setup at Simply Recipes.
• The Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus has a 3-cup bowl and while this may still be too big for some spice pastes, it seems to do better than comparable models in blending wet and dry ingredients.
• The Moulin Wet and Dry Grinder is like a mini blender designed for both wet and dry grinding.
• This Revel Wet and Dry Grinder with a removable, washable bowl also looks promising.