Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vitamix S50 review–for Indian recipes

I would think that everybody who cooks indian recipes is always on the lookout for a good mixer/blender. At least I always was. We had an Oster blender which would do the not so powerful stuff but was too big to grind anything in small quantities or dry grinding spices.

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Then we got a small indian mixer. It did it’s job really well and I was very happy with it. However the quality was not so good and it ended up breaking only after a few uses.

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Of course I also have a stone grinder that would grind batter for vada, idli, dosa, etc. and it;s my favorite for doing that job.

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My kitchen had this void for a mixer that I could use to grind chutneys, wet masalas, dry spices and especially in small quantities. So I started looking at the ninja bullet and the likes. The primary attraction there was the small mixer/blender jars that come with this category of blenders. They’re just perfect for my purpose. One thing led to another and I came across the Vitamix S series. Earlier I’d never entertained the idea of buying a vitamix because of it’s prohibitive cost. The S series being the personal series was more reasonable than their other series but still was at $400 – but then it was made in USA. That was a point in it’s favor. I looked a a couple of videos and was mostly convinced that it should do the job for me. With that I started stalking craigslist to grab a used one – given that it has a lifetime guarantee I thought it was a perfect candidate for buying second hand (only time will tell if my thinking was correct!).

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We brought home an S50. The benefits of the personal series is that it comes with a small jar (20 oz) and a big one (40 oz); it packs a good enough power and the same blade as the full series. The power is a little less than their full series but that doesn’t seem to be limiting. We use the vitamix for making:

  1. Smoothies and shakes – like mango shake, strawberry banana smoothie, etc. The texture is very silken and everything blends uniformly. In strawberry banana smoothie you wouldn’t taste the grittiness of the strawberry seeds. I’ve used both the small jar as well as the big jar for these and both work great.
  2. Pureeing and chutneys – pureeing spinach for saag and making cilantro-mint chuney. With the latter we need to use the tamper to push the herbs down and then we get a very smooth chutney. Always used the big jar because I think the fresh leaves take a lot of space and would be hard to squeeze into the small container.
  3. Grinding dry spices – I made bisibelebhaath powder in the small jar because I only wanted a small quantity. It was just awesome! I was so happy with it!
  4. Coconut chutney – this is one thing that has not worked very well for us. We’re still experimenting to see how we can get a good texture here. I have tried the small as well as the big jar. If you have any suggestions do let me know.
  5. Wet masalas – like grinding cashews with water or grinding tomatoes with spices. I use the small jar for this and has worked really well!

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Bisibelebhaath powder made with vitamix by grinding whole red chillies, various lentils, cinnamon and other whole spices.

Overall this does come out as a winner as it lets me do almost everything I need to do – from dry grinding to wet grinding to smoothies – all with just one mixer. If your recipe can use sufficient quantity of liquid then it’s a breeze to grind/blend. Otherwise using a tamper (provided with the machine) helps and it might take a little time but still gives you the perfect smooth texture. My only ask from vitamix would be that since they call this the personal series and have smaller jars with this series, it would be great if they can support the mini jars as well with this series!

I still have my stone grinder and use it for grinding south indian batters.

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